The Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA) was founded in 1997, after the emergence of antiretroviral therapy but before the potential of treatment as prevention had been established. Since its inception, CIRA has supported a diverse portfolio of interdisciplinary research in domestic and international settings,contributing significantly to scientific knowledge of HIV risk and transmission and the cost-effectiveness and efficacy of HIV interventions in highly impacted groups and settings. In the next five years CIRA will focus on stimulating and supporting innovative interdisciplinary research that combines behavioral, social and biomedical approaches, focused on the implementation of HIV prevention and treatment and the elimination of HIV disparities. We will leverage the extensive and multi-disciplinary expertise of our scientists and partners to have a greater impact on the global epidemic through contextualized implementation science and ongoing support of interdisciplinary HIV research education and training programs that will diversify and replenish the field of HIV research. Building on recent advances in HIV science, the Center will foster and support various research programs in strategic areas with emphasis on implementation/translation research and combination, multi-level approaches. As the sole AIDS Prevention Research Center in New England, we will create a regional network of HIV researchers and service providers focused on the conduct of implementation research in small urban centers with high HIV infection rates, e.g., Providence and New Haven, This unique initiative will complement ongoing efforts to address implementation gaps in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy in the 12 largest metropolitan areas by supporting the development and implementation of effective HIV interventions tailored to smaller cities with high HIV prevalence. Our global research will also focus on advancing implementation science and cost-effective, sustainable HIV interventions in low resource settings, particularly South Africa, Russia and China. CIRA's new mission will be implemented through the coordinated effort of five Cores: Administrative, Development, Community Research and Implementation, Clinical Health Services Research, and Interdisciplinary Research Methods, In keeping with our strategic foci, each Core will have a role in supporting implementation science and building capacity to conduct research in small urban centers with high HIV prevalence. Addressing law, policy and ethics issues related to the conduct of HIV research will also be integral to the work of CIRA and its Cores in the new project period. Core level and center-wide impact will be measured through systematic monitoring and evaluation.
Advances in HIV science hold great promise yet there are formidable barriers to translating this knowledge into practice. HIV disparities, a,resurgence of HIV in young MSM, the rise of HIV co-morbid conditions, the aging ofthe HIV population, and need for cost-effective approaches present continuing challenges to public health. CIRA is poised to address these challenges, providing a nexus for scientific inquiry and research collaborations to advance implementation of effective solutions to the epidemic.
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