The Philippines is currently experiencing one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics in the world. HIV prevalence in the Philippines had initially remained low and dormant until 2006, but in 2007 an epidemic shift occurred such that HIV transmission became attributed primarily to male same-sex behavior. Following this turning point the HIV epidemic has expanded rapidly, with an estimated 812% increase in reported cases from 2008-2013 and 90% of new surveillance cases concentrated in men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women. Health services in the Philippines currently do not adequately meet the HIV prevention, testing, or treatment needs of the country?s most vulnerable populations such as MSM and transgender women. This lack of HIV services parallels the limited capacity in the Philippines to conduct high-quality research on HIV prevention/treatment and to design effective interventions with vulnerable populations such as MSM and transgender women. The University of the Philippines Manila (UPM) is the premier health sciences research university in the Philippines, and is strategically positioned to be a leader in HIV research with vulnerable populations. However, UPM currently lacks a sizable cadre of research scientists who have the training to conduct cutting-edge HIV prevention/treatment research with MSM and transgender women, and lacks necessary coursework and curriculum to train the next generation of HIV research scientists in the Philippines. The proposed D43 training program will respond to this need by establishing a partnership between UPM and Brown University. This training program builds on a previous successful partnership and collaboration between UPM and Brown: the Fogarty AIDS International Training Research Program (AITRP), which trained 21 HIV scientists in the Philippines on clinical aspects of HIV infection, basic HIV epidemiology, and behavioral prevention counseling. The program will further expand research and educational/curricular capacity at UPM by accomplishing the following Specific Aims: (i) Use long-term training to expand the cohort of research scientists focusing on HIV intervention research with MSM and transgender women in the Philippines (2 PhD and 5 Master?s students over 5 years); (ii) Facilitate revision and expansion of UPM curriculum on HIV interventions with vulnerable populations; (iii) Establish an annual Workshop for Research on HIV Interventions with Vulnerable Populations, based at UPM, for dissemination of research findings, professional networking, and mobilizing new research projects. This program proposal represents a long-term commitment and collaboration between researchers at both partner Universities, and planning of this program was informed by consultation with clinical professionals, governmental and non-governmental HIV service providers, and stakeholders in the Philippines. The training plan aligns with priorities set forth in the Trans-NIH strategic plan on HIV/AIDS, by improving the infrastructure for research training capacity and growth of the current body of scientific knowledge on HIV in this rapidly growing epidemic in the Philippines.

Public Health Relevance

There is an urgent need to develop the research and curricular capacity in order to train HIV scientists in the Philippines, where one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics in the world occurs. This proposal responds to this need by training emerging scholars and mentoring faculty from the University of the Philippines and enhancing infrastructure for the dissemination of research within country, in order to lay a sustainable foundation for building the next generation of high-impact HIV scientists in the Philippines.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Fogarty International Center (FIC)
International Research Training Grants (D43)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Bansal, Geetha Parthasarathy
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Brown University
Social Sciences
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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