The overall aim of our Program for Advanced ReseArch Capacities for AIDS in Peru (PARACAS) is to consolidate a mature HIV research training framework at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH), in which outstanding young or mid-career health researchers will reach scientific autonomy by providing sound evidence for the implementation of optimized and efficient care models that comprehensibly address the fact that HIV is rather a chronic, prolonged condition. Undeniably, health services should foster earlier initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in parallel to increasing retentio in care of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), as this combination preserves and benefits individual and community health. In that regard, PARACAS'trainees will propose intervention strategies built upon a comprehensive analysis that considers biomedical aspects and multidimensional perspectives related with the processes of entry and retention in care, such as the perspectives of PLWHA (adult, adolescents, and children), of their families, their communities, and the health staff. Accordingly, the proposed interrelated training at US (3 MPH trainees and 2 postdoctoral positions) will be based on two pillars: behavioral sciences for a broad, scientific analysis of those perspectives;and implementation science, to assure that the analysis can be translated to specific evidence-based interventions. Because coexistent tuberculosis (TB) and particularly multidrug resistant TB, frequent in Peru, add burden of disease to PLWHA, our PARACAS will also address the role of these infections as barriers for early entry and retention in care. As PARACAS stands as an initiative that follows the successful collaboration of three universities, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH), the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), long-standing academic outputs are also envisioned. PARACAS will enable mentoring systems and promote "transformative learning" by means of fostering the "thinking critically ahead" model and stimulating the interaction, leadership, and team work of trainees with complementary expertise and different level of experience, even advanced undergraduate medical students (tandem research groups). These strategies should serve to nurture new incoming generations of physician scientists whose contributions should continue notoriously improving the lives of PLWHA.
PARACAS will address the challenges of providing long term and sustainable care to HIV/AIDS patients beyond the provision of antiretroviral treatment (ART). Linking and retaining patients into medical care and supporting treatment adherence will have a direct and positive impact on individual outcomes, on reducing transmission, and on decreasing the risk of acquiring resistance to ART. PARACAS will train outstanding early career researchers in innovative disciplines best suited for the scientific objectives: implementation science and socio-behavioral sciences. PARACAS trainees will contribute to expanding the scientific workforce of Peru, catalyzing existing resources in order to contribute to the improved health of populations living with HIV/AIDS.