News Release 

Landmark NIH funding extended for CUNY's bold HIV/AIDS prevention research initiative

CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has extended funding through 2022 for Together 5000 (T5K), a nationwide HIV prevention study led by Dr. Christian Grov of the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) and the CUNY Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health (ISPH).

Since the initial two-year award, Dr. Grov's research team has established a cohort of over 8,000 HIV-negative gay and bisexual men who are not on PrEP and at high risk for HIV acquisition, representing all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Participants complete annual online surveys and self-administer HIV tests in their homes. Continued funding for this study for an additional three years was contingent on achieving a series of stringent transition milestones with regard to the sample size, racial and age diversity, and follow-up retention of the cohort that were required to be achieved within the first two years. Greater than half of the participants in the cohort are racial and ethnic minorities, and a quarter of the sample is under the age of 25--two groups that have been disproportionally impacted by HIV. Having met all of the milestones, Dr. Grov and his team have been awarded funding for the next three-year phase of the study.

This cohort study aims to improve HIV prevention and care for gay and bisexual men using knowledge gained from large-scale technology-mediated epidemiological cohort studies. Gay and bisexual men account for nearly two-thirds of new HIV diagnoses among men, with men of color impacted the most by the ongoing epidemic. HIV research in this population has traditionally focused on adults over the age of 18 even though many gay and bisexual men become sexually active around age 16. As HIV infections have increased among younger men who have sex with men in recent years, inclusion of younger participants in the cohort will hopefully lead to improved HIV prevention strategies across multiple age groups.

Continued NIH funding demonstrates the success of Dr. Grov's research in the last two years and will enable his team to keep following the cohort through 2022.

"Even with just the first phase of funding, we have gathered a wealth of data from an exceptionally large sample," said Dr. Grov. "For example, by their first follow up assessment, we observed a huge number of participants start to take HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) - a once-daily pill that is more than 99 percent effective in preventing HIV, if exposed."

In the next three years, Dr. Grov will be exploring factors that facilitated PrEP use among the cohort, such as living in a one of the 48 'high burden' counties and seven states targeted by the recently announced federal initiative to End the HIV Epidemic (EtHE).

"Since there are T5K cohort study participants in all 48 of these counties, we are extremely well-positioned to assess the impact of the federal EtHE initiative's implementation activities on improving access to and uptake of HIV prevention modalities among those who need them most," said Denis Nash, Distinguished Professor at CUNY SPH and Executive Director of the ISPH.

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Dr. Grov is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Community Health and Social Sciences at CUNY SPH. The investigative team for Together 5000 (UH3-AI133675) includes an interdisciplinary group of researchers from the CUNY ISPH, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, University of Massachusetts - Boston, Rutgers University, and the Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR).

About the Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health

The CUNY Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health (ISPH) was founded on the notion that substantial improvements in population health can be efficiently achieved through better implementation of existing strategies, policies, and interventions across multiple sectors. We study how to translate and scale-up evidence-based interventions and policies within clinical and community settings in order to improve population health and reduce health disparities. CUNY ISPH. Pursing population health gains through better implementation. http://www.cunyisph.org. Follow us on Twitter: @CUNYISPH.

About the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy

The CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) is committed to teaching, research and service that creates a healthier New York City and helps promote equitable, efficient and evidence-based solutions to pressing health problems facing cities around the world. For more information, visit sph.cuny.edu.

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