HIV remains a major public health concern in Georgia given the potential for developing into a widespread epidemic. In order to contain it, the country should have adequate capacity to obtain quality research evidence to better understand key drivers of HIV epidemic as well as identify bottlenecks in existing services, policies, and programs, to prepare a strong basis for improving national response to HIV/AIDS. The main objective of the proposed planning grant (Planning Grant for Fogarty HIV Research Training Program for Low-and-Middle-Income Country Institutions [D71], PAR-13-214), as defined by the applicant organization Partnership for Research and Action for Health - a strategic partner of Tbilisi State Medical University (TSMU) International School of Public Health (ISPH), in collaboration with the University at Albany/State University of New York School of Public Health (SUNY/Albany-SPH), the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center (SUNY-DMC), The New York State Department of Health's (NYSDOH) AIDS Institute, is to support development of doctoral level HIV research training opportunities at TSMU-ISPH, Georgia. The scientific topics for the proposed HIV research training include epidemiologic, behavioral, social, implementation, operations, health services, and health systems research across HIV prevention, treatment and care. These proposed topics and target groups were selected based on careful analysis of existing data, including the major gaps that exist in our understanding of the challenges faced by these key affected populations when accessing prevention and care and treatment services. The proposed scientific topics align fully with UNAIDS's key recommendations to government officials and policy makers on the investments needed to end the global AIDS epidemic over the coming decades. The program's proposed scientific topics also align fully with the priorities laid out in New York State's Plan to End the AIDS Epidemic. This alignment of priorities, as well as the underlying similarities in the concentrated epidemics in the Republic of Georgia and in New York State, creates a unique opportunity to incorporate a meaningful experiential learning component as part of the proposed training program. This planning effort is an excellent extension of the long and fruitful association between TSMU- ISPH, SUNY/Albany-SPH and SUNY-DMC, within the framework of Fogarty funded AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP) training grant that has been active in Georgia since 1996. Namely, AITRP project has supported MPH level training in epidemiology and biostatistics for many of TSMU-ISPH faculty and students, with major focus on epidemiology of HIV/AIDS. It is believed that the proposed planning grant will prepare a basis for successful application to full Fogarty HIV Research Training Program (D43, PAR-13-126), through which the support will be provided to TSMU-ISPH in the design and implementation of two doctoral programs: (1) Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Program in Epidemiology, and (2) Doctoral of Public Health (DrPH) Program in Health Policy, Management and Behavior. The program implementation will be guided by a special Technical Advisory Group (TAG) consisting of Program Faculty representing TSMU-ISPH, SUNY/Albany-SPH, SUNY-DMC and the NYSDOH AIDS Institute. The major activities under this planning grant include needs assessment/formative research and two one-week workshops, to be organized in Georgia and attended by US and Georgian program faculty members.
HIV remains a major public health concern in Georgia given the potential for developing into a widespread epidemic. To help improving national efforts for successful implementation of 'End AIDS' strategy in the country, Georgian non-profit organization Partnership for Research and Action for Health - a strategic partner of Tbilisi State Medical University International School of Public Health (TSMU-ISPH), in collaboration with the University at Albany/State University of New York School of Public Health (SUNY/Albany-SPH), the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center (SUNY-DMC), and The New York State Department of Health's (NYSDOH) AIDS Institute, is planning to improve research capacity of young Georgian researchers through supporting the development of doctoral level HIV research training opportunities at TSMU-ISPH, Georgia.