CORE J BEHAVIORAL AND COMMUNITY SCIENCES HIV disease is now disproportionately experienced by disadvantaged and underserved populations in the Deep South, especially communities of color and men who have sex with men (MSM). The competitive renewal period marks a critical transition for the UAB CFAR Behavioral and Community Science Core J that is responsive to this changing U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic and is in line with the National HIV/AIDS strategy and its intersection with behavioral and community science. Reaching these marginalized risk groups requires sound community-based behavioral research aimed at understanding HIV in the South, which differs from well-studied early urban HIV epicenters. Southerners living with HIV/AIDS face barriers to HIV services related to heightened HIV sigma, poverty, inadequate health infrastructure, geographic distance, and other cultural factors. Therefore, Core J is transitioning toward more community- rather than clinic-based research on behavioral, environmental, economic, and social HIV risk and protective factors in the Deep South. This information will guide population-based and individual risk reduction strategies and linkages to care that are population sensitive and specific. Core J leadership has increased involvement with HIV researchers across campus and solidified collaborations with community stakeholders invested in understanding behaviorally based HIV research questions. This strengthening of infrastructure will support accomplishment of specific aims in the renewal period: (1) Bring methodological advances in behavioral and community science to bear on HIV/AIDS research and interventions in affected Deep South communities. (2) Strengthen and sustain collaborations with key groups to achieve Aim 1, including academic-community, cross-core, and cross center partnerships. (3) Base core activities and services on needs of UAB HIV researchers coupled with leadership and consultation for academic-community research partnerships in a rapidly changing health care environment. Fulfillment of these aims will expand the research infrastructure in response to investigator needs, build community linkages, and bring advanced methodologies to bear on HIV/AIDS research in disproportionately affected Deep South communities.

Public Health Relevance

The HIV epidemic now disproportionately affects the Deep South, particularly communities of color and MSM. Southerners living with HIV/AIDS face barriers to HIV services that differ from well studied early urban epidemic centers. Reaching these underserved groups with population sensitive and specific interventions requires sound community-based behavioral research specific to HIV in the South. Core J will expand community-based research infrastructure and advanced methodologies to address the Southern epidemic.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAI1)
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University of Alabama Birmingham
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