A $7.5 million grant will enable UAB researchers to expand their work in the research, prevention and treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Michael Saag says the UAB Center for AIDS
Research will use the NIH renewal grant to
investigate why AIDS patients are getting
dementia, heart disease or other ailments earlier
in the aging process than non-infected patients.

The renewal grant from the National Institutes of Health confirms UAB’s place among an elite group of 20 CFARs nationwide in which doctors and scientists are engaged in broad-ranging research to boost detection and treatment of HIV.

“This award enables us to keep moving forward into those areas, projects and techniques used to fight HIV and adapt to and explore projects that I consider leading-edge or uncharted,” said Michael Saag, M.D., director of the UAB Center for AIDS Research (CFAR).

“Our center has excelled in the basic science of HIV, and now we’re doing the same in terms of patient care — advancing the message of HIV testing and prevention and taking our successes and care model into the developing world.”

The $7.5 million grant enables investigators to focus, expand and pursue their research goals and explore new ideas through multi-disciplinary collaboration and shared resources available to center researchers and HIV teams. It will support CFAR’s nine cores, or shared projects: administrative, biostatics, virology, clinical, developmental, DNA sequencing, flow cytometry, international, and behavioral science and prevention.

“One of the areas we plan to study is how HIV-infected patients are living longer — almost a normal life span when they are on effective therapy — but their aging seems accelerated,” Saag said. “Infected patients are getting dementia or heart disease or having heart attacks and other problems sooner in the aging process than we normally find in non-infected patients. That is going to be a big focus of the CFAR heading forward — evaluating the complications of living with HIV for a long time.”