Sexually transmitted infection (STI) patients co-infected with syphilis and HIV have some of the highest HIV transmission probabilities, yet many STI patients often never receive screening for either of these frequently asymptomatic STIs. This KOI application details a four year plan focused on implementing integrated syphilis/HIV services in South China, a region characterized by hyper endemic syphilis transmission and increasing sexual HIV transmission. Linking clinical epidemiology and social science methods, the research and training plan will be mentored by Dr. Myron S. Cohen (Infectious Diseases), Dr. Xiang-Sheng Chen (Epidemiology), and Dr. Martin K. Whyte (Sociology). The training component will include advanced coursework on clinical epidemiology, anthropology, and Mandarin Chinese to complete a Masters in Regional Studies East Asia (MRSEA) at Harvard. As an Infectious Disease Fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital, I completed a preliminary study that found HIV to be independently associated with syphilis infection at STI clinics in South China. Syphilis test acceptance at STI clinics was greater than 90%, but HIV testing acceptance was poor. Responding to South China's expanding syphilis epidemic, the WHO has launched a pilot program in two cities providing free rapid syphilis testing at select STI clinics, introducing a special opportunity for parallel HIV operational research. Transitioning to the Massachusetts General Hospital faculty with my mentor's support, I will focus on the following three specific aims: 1) To analyze STI patient characteristics that correlate to accepting HIV testing at STI clinics;2) To describe the social and cultural context of HIV testing STI patients using qualitative methods;3) To assess STI physician characteristics that correlate to offering HIV testing. The proposed training and research program will provide a foundation to understand the complex biosocial fabric of rapidly evolving sexual health behaviors in China, uniquely positioning me as a junior investigator to implement novel behavioral responses to the twin epidemics of syphilis and HIV in China.

Public Health Relevance

Scaling up integrated HIV services is a global health priority of the first order. Approximately 90% of new syphilis cases globally are in low income areas where sexually transmitted HIV is also a major public health problem, but there have been few studies systematically analyzing integration of syphilis and HIV testing. The ultimate goal of this research is to determine optimal systems for integrated syphilis/HIV testing at STI clinics in South China

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
Fogarty International Center (FIC)
Type
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
Project #
5K01TW008200-04
Application #
8284349
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-ICP2-B (51))
Program Officer
Jessup, Christine
Project Start
2010-07-01
Project End
2014-06-30
Budget Start
2012-08-13
Budget End
2013-06-30
Support Year
4
Fiscal Year
2012
Total Cost
$131,760
Indirect Cost
$9,760
Name
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Department
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Type
Schools of Medicine
DUNS #
608195277
City
Chapel Hill
State
NC
Country
United States
Zip Code
27599
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Bien, Cedric H; Muessig, Kathryn E; Lee, Ramon et al. (2015) HIV and syphilis testing preferences among men who have sex with men in South China: a qualitative analysis to inform sexual health services. PLoS One 10:e0124161
Best, John; Tang, Weiming; Zhang, Ye et al. (2015) Sexual behaviors and HIV/syphilis testing among transgender individuals in China: implications for expanding HIV testing services. Sex Transm Dis 42:281-5
Wei, Chongyi; Muessig, Kathryn E; Bien, Cedric et al. (2014) Strategies for promoting HIV testing uptake: willingness to receive couple-based and collective HIV testing among a cross-sectional online sample of men who have sex with men in China. Sex Transm Infect 90:469-74

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