UAB youth HIV program earns $31.7 million renewal grant

Project has received more than $90 million since 1994 to fund prevention and treatment programs for youth and helped focus resources on minority care.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has received a five-year, $31.7 million award for its Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions (ATN), formed in 2001 to respond to the HIV epidemic in youth.

nicole_walker_siteWorldwide, an estimated 1.2 million new HIV infections occur annually among people ages 15-24, almost half of all new infections; worse, ATN reports that as many as 60 to 80 percent are unaware they are infected. In the United States, a third of all new infections occur among those ages 13-29.

“We continually work to develop interventions that will affect the youth HIV epidemic, particularly among ethnic minority groups,” says Craig Wilson, M.D, principal investigator and professor in the UAB School of Public Health. This is the third five-year project period for ATN, which serves the largest number of ethnic minority youth and has access to populations not served by any other networks or programs.

“We have established active, community-based coalitions with a primary prevention focus in 15 cities, and we now are expanding into five new cities,” Wilson says.

The renewal funding will be directed to expanding ATN’s community-based backbone. The grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development  is supplemented by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Mental Health.

The more than $90 million awarded to UAB for its adolescent HIV work since 1994 has helped achieve numerous advances:

  • Developed programs that enable youth to adapt to a diagnosis and take responsibility for their long-term care
  • Completed preliminary studies for secondary prevention programs targeting ethnic minority youth
  • Partner with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and departments of public health in 15 cities to enhance HIV testing programs and evaluate linkage to care strategies
  • Established safety and usefulness of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination in HIV-infected youth
  • Established an effective dose for the Hepatitis B (HBV) vaccination in HIV-infected youth
  • Completed studies to ensure available therapies are tested and correctly dosed for youth and also to be able to identify any unique toxicities in youth

“The ATN is prepared to test therapies for HIV prevention and help ensure FDA approval to use the products in youth comes as soon as possible,” Wilson says.