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Creating a one-stop shop for HIV research

Open-access issue of leading research journal will highlight scientists and implementation teams working together to put research into practice

  • Northwestern University will coordinate a first-of-its-kind open-access issue of JAIDS, where scientists funded by NIH through the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative report findings
  • Projects reported on use of Implementation Science, a type of research that looks at the best way to get effective interventions into the hands of the most people
  • The issue coincides with the launch of a public digital dashboard tool identifying multilevel determinants of HIV service implementations for practitioners and researchers

CHICAGO --- A new publicly accessible special issue of the Journal of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (JAIDS) — a premier HIV/AIDS research journal — reports new findings on how to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S.

The free special issue will highlight HIV Implementation Science, which uses scientific methods to identify the best ways to implement effective HIV testing, prevention and treatment innovations. The majority of the 27 articles reported were funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as partnerships between academic HIV research centers and service providers such as health departments and community health centers.

Research findings typically take 17 years to move from the lab to clinical practice. Implementation science seeks to bridge this gap by addressing barriers and facilitators to improve the quality and effectiveness of health services.

“Implementation science is a relatively new field that is seeing rapid adoption among HIV researchers who want to work with communities on strategies for effective implementation of these lifesaving innovations,” said Brian Mustanski, co-director of the Third Coast Center for AIDS Research and professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “The articles in this special issue showcase a range of implementation science approaches and can serve as examples to researchers and practitioners who want to join this initiative.”

JAIDS will offer open access to the special issue for a year, after which the papers will be open access in PubMed Central. To highlight the contents of the JAIDS special issue, the Implementation Science Coordination Initiative (ISCI) will be hosting a satellite symposium at the 2022 International AIDS Conference in Montreal titled, “Leveraging Implementation Science to End the HIV Epidemic in the United States: Highlighted Findings from a JAIDS Special Issue,” on August 1. Following opening remarks from Dr. Maureen Goodenow, director of the NIH Office of AIDS Research and NIH Associate Director of HIV/AIDS Research, authors of select studies in the special issue will present their findings. Other scholars will review the challenges, evidence gaps and future directions in the field of HIV Implementation Science.

“There’s lots of exceptional HIV research, and examples of Implementation Science in fields like mental health,” said Dr. Dennis H. Li, an author of a paper on barriers and facilitators for PrEP, a highly effective HIV prevention medication. “We have the tools we need to prevent and treat HIV, yet we’re still not seeing the end of the epidemic. This journal highlights important collaborative efforts to get interventions to the community as efficiently and equitably as possible.”

The JAIDS special issue, set to publish June 10, will highlight key advances in Implementation Science to end the HIV epidemic and include 27 scientific articles and commentaries from scientists and government officials. The special issue’s organizers, along with several researchers, will present findings at AIDS 2022, the  24th International AIDS Conference, on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022.

The issue was organized by the Implementation Science Coordination Initiative (ISCI), housed at the Third Coast Center for AIDS Research spanning Northwestern, the University of Chicago and numerous public health and community partners. ISCI leadership, including Mustanski, Li, Nanette Benbow and J.D. Smith, also took the lead on editing the issue.

Benbow said readers can expect to find articles in the issue that address each of the four pillars of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) in the U.S. initiative: prevent, treat, diagnose and respond.

“An especially exciting element of this issue is that all geographic regions of the United States are covered, including urban as well as rural locations,” said Benbow, co-director of ISCI and an editor of the issue. “Equally important is that studies focus on priority populations, including sexual-minority men, Black and Latina cisgender women, and transgender people.”

One article, led by NIH Office of AIDS Research Senior Science Advisor Dr. Mary Glenshaw, provides an overview of the NIH’s role in EHE. Another article led by officials from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Resources and Services Administration, and NIH describes the inter-agency collaborations that enabled EHE’s signature science partnerships. The JAIDS issue also includes papers reporting results of implementation trials, such as its paper by Dr. Sylvie Naar and colleagues that tested a set of implementation strategies intended to help providers improve their motivational interviewing, an evidence-based approach used to help youth living with HIV take better care of their health.

Readers can also access an innovative online ISCI HIV Implementation Literature Review Dashboard to search for the latest findings by key populations served, geographic region and important contextual factors. The dashboard is an interactive data tool comprised of hundreds of U.S. studies that identify multilevel determinants of HIV implementation. It is available for use by researchers and practitioners now and will be updated with literature on determinants and strategies for PrEP, testing and HIV care.

About ISCI

ISCI provides high-quality technical assistance for EHE-funded implementation research teams and creates opportunities to share generalizable knowledge to help end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. ISCI provides interactive tools, decision support for researchers, curriculum for practitioners, HIV implementation science resources and much more. All tools are publicly available at ISCI is supported by an NIH grant to the Third Coast Center for AIDS Research (P30 AI117943).