The University of Puerto Rico, Pediatric HIV/AIDS Research Program is a re-competing Adolescent Trial Unit. The program has the expertise and infrastructure to perform clinical trials with the adolescent population. It provides primary and specialized services to 120 HIV infected children and adolescents, 70% of which have participated or participate in clinical trials. Over 65% (n=80) of these are adolescents are 12- 24 years of age. Most are perinatally infected children who have aged to adolescence, but there are also youth that have been infected through blood products, IV drug use or sexual transmission, including young females (n=20) who receive services at the UPR HIV female clinic. Strong ties to community-based organizations and government health agencies provide a steady source of protocol candidates. As an ATM site, the program has recruited a total of 327 adolescents to behavioral, therapeutic and community protocols. Our research staff has made an outreach effort resulting in a protocol acceptance participation rate of over 90%, with 100% retention to longitudinal studies. Connect to Protect? (C2P) started in January 2003 and since then our site has been successful in accomplishing all Phase I activities and has begun Phase II, developing a primary prevention infrastructure in our communities to offer innovative prevention strategies. We have focused our C2P efforts on intravenous drug users (IVDU's) and drug users (DU), both male and female, Latino, of all sexual orientations. Our C2P Project has been very productive and this has allowed our site to enter ATN 016b activities before several other sites. The adolescent population in Puerto Rico is very much at risk for HIV infection given the high annual AIDS rate on the island (316.6 per 100,000 population for 2003) third among U.S. states and territories. Preliminary 2004 data reveals a total of 1,098 HIV infections on the island. Of these 183 are adolescents 12 to 24 years of age. The major risk factor for this population is IV drug use and heterosexual contact. The UPR ATU's strong community component allows us to identify adolescents at risk or infected with HIV, bring them to care, and offer them access to clinical trials, thus contributing to the ATN research agenda.
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