NIH Grant Awarded to Address HIV Infection in At-Risk Youth

Funding of $24 million will support programs and studies that address HIV-infection and prevention among at-risk groups.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded up to $24 million in 2016 to a research network focused on adolescents and young adults with HIV and those who are at risk.

The funding will provide for 3 research centers and a data coordinating center that will make up the Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions (ATN), according to a press release.

The primary focus of ATN is to get at-risk youth into care, while simultaneously offering them the opportunity to participate in clinical trials, which could potentially improve their own health, as well as others.

“Most new HIV infections occur in young people,” said Bill G. Kapogiannis, MD, network co-director and medical officer, Eunice Kennedy Shriver NICHD. “Many in this population go a long time before they find out they have HIV and often do not get the care they need.”

HIV-positive individuals who are unaware of their status and go untreated run the risk of passing the virus to future partners. To counteract this, the ATN centers will conduct studies aimed at HIV prevention among youth. The program will also seek to enroll HIV-positive youth into treatment studies to prevent transmission, and improve their health overall.

“Many at-risk youth are not aware that they need HIV and STI testing or prevention services,” said Sonia Lee, PhD, network co-director and program officer at NICHD. “ATN studies will focus on helping this population engage with available services and avoid behaviors that increase the risk of HIV-infection.”

The awards supporting the 3 leadership hubs and a coordinating center will allow the network to conduct research through collaborations within the program, and with other institutions.

Researchers in each of the leadership hubs will form relationships with clinical sites in urban centers throughout the country, according to the press release. These researchers all have expertise in conducting research studies, and providing care for youth with HIV.