Biomedical advances have dramatically changed the landscape of HIV prevention and treatment domestically and globally. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), vaginal microbicides, male circumcision, and antiretroviral therapy (ART) for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) have all been shown to reduce transmission in large trials, improve availability and access to ART and result in significant reductions in morbidity and mortality in HIV-infected infants, children and adults;Moreover, people with treatment-induced suppression of HIV viremia are less likely to infect others. As exciting as these biomedical advances are, they all depend on sustained changes in human behavior, and success of any future vaccine depends on acceptance and uptake and potentially, adherence to multiple doses over time. In 2006, the HU CFAR held a Strategic Planning Meeting in which the membership recognized the need for increased behavioral science efforts to examine how psychosocial and contextual factors influence HIV-related behaviors and to identify intervention points. This led to formation of the Behavioral and Social Sciences Program (BSSP) within the HU CFAR. As this has grown, there has been an increased need to provide behavioral/social science services to HU CFAR members and to mentor junior faculty and fellows. In addition, there has been an increasing need for integration of behavioral science into the context of HIV treatment programs and vaccine development. To this end, the Behavioral and Social Sciences Core has been established, to not just as a convener, but also provide critical services to the membership that are otherwise not available. The new Behavioral and Social Sciences Core will have the following specific aims: 1. To provide collaborative and consultation services to HU'CFAR members on behavioral and social science aspects of HIV prevention, treatment, and translational research projects. 2. To leverage infrastructure from HU CFAR biomedical projects to develop new behavioral/social science studies. 3. To foster community-based-participatory research and community engagement by providing a scientific and organizational base for HU CFAR's Community Programs.
We propose a Behavioral and Social Sciences Core for the Harvard University Center for AIDS Research that will provide services to behavioral and biomedical researchers;will leverage ongoing biomedical projects to integrate behavioral/social science and conduct add-on behavioral/ social science studies;and will engage community stakeholders to increase buy-in of research and acceptance of new biomedical technologies.
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