The San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) is a pioneer in HIV research, a leader of HIV behavioral research and interventions with the transgender (hereafter ?trans?) community and has been a training ground for HIV scientists since the beginning of the epidemic. Trans people are a key population most severely affected by HIV, but they are under-served in the epidemic response. Intervention trials do not adequately include trans people, and when they are included it is often with other populations without the sample size to power analyses that can determine the benefit of breakthroughs in HIV prevention and care. HIV behavioral research often misses the mark in asking the questions and gathering the right data needed to determine reasons for elevated risk and identify appropriate modalities for intervention. To move the epidemic to zero new infections, zero AIDS deaths, and zero stigma, scientists with expertise in trans population health must play a significant scientific role in the response to HIV, especially those from underrepresented populations in the US biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social sciences research enterprise. There is a paucity of HIV behavioral scientists with expertise in trans population health to do this work, and to our knowledge, there are no known mentoring programs to train scholars in HIV behavioral science and trans population health. Our team has decades of HIV research training experience and we are also experts in HIV behavioral research with trans communities, having run studies for almost 20 years and with 8 HIV behavioral studies with the trans community currently in the field. Building on our research and mentoring experiences, we propose ?SHINE Strong? ? a mentoring program committed to the long-term development of HIV behavioral scientists with expertise in trans population health.
Our specific aims are to: (1) Develop an HIV behavioral research training program for undergraduates from underrepresented populations in the US biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social sciences research enterprise interested in trans population health that will include intensive summer research, year-long mentored projects, and life-long career advocacy and social support; (2) Work collaboratively with scholars to develop career plans, pathways to independence, support systems, and capacities for culturally and medically relevant trans health research; and (3) Create and sustain a network of mentors from diverse backgrounds to support scholars? careers in trans population health research. The 5-year grant will recruit 4 cohorts of 3 scholars each. The program entails: (a) an intensive summer of interdisciplinary training, development of a career plan, design of an HIV-related study, and networking with the local research community; (b) completion of a 1-year mentored research project; (c) an online learning platform with scheduled, asynchronous peer-to-peer exchanges; and (d) a final Research Forum presentation for the local trans and scientific communities and the next cohort of scholars.
Trans people are the most severely affected by HIV yet trans people of color are particularly under-represented in science. To move the epidemic to zero new infections, zero AIDS deaths, and zero stigma, trans scientists will have to play a significant and central role in the response to HIV, especially those from under-represented racial/ethnic minority groups. This proposed SHINE Strong training program is led by under-represented minority scientists and will address this urgent need for trans HIV investigators.