Closer to the Cure: Researchers Receive Avant-Garde Award and More

In this week’s edition of Closer to the Cure: We’ve found some major HIV/AIDS statistics that confirm a decline in HIV/AIDS cases among the African-American community, researchers will receive recognition for their contribution to HIV/AIDS research and more. Share these findings on social media and get some buzz flowing about HIV/AIDS initiatives.



Five Researchers Will Receive 2015 Avant-Garde Award for HIV/AIDS Research

Five scientists have proposed new creative approaches to HIV/AIDS research. Their efforts were acknowledged by the HIV/AIDS Research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and scientists were awarded $500,000 per year to support their research. The Avante-Garde competition is intended to stimulate high-impact research that may lead to groundbreaking opportunities for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in drug users.


Awardees include:

  • Don C. Des Jarlais, Ph.D.

Project: Combined Prevention to Reduce Initiation into Injecting Drug Use

  • Eli Gilboa, Ph.D.

Project: Reversing HIV T cell Dysfunction by Aptamer Targeting of Therapeutic siRNAs

  • Nichole Klatt, Ph.D.

Project: Impact of Cannabis on Inflammation and Viral Persistence in Treated HIV/SIV

  • Alan D. Levine, Ph.D.

Project: Repairing the Intestinal Epithelium from the Dual Action of HIV and Drug Use

  • Tariq M. Rana

Project: Modeling HIV/AIDS Associated Neurological Disorders with Human Pluripotent Cells


These awardees were among the many applicants whose proposals reflect diverse scientific disciplines and approaches to HIV/AIDS research. The Avant-Garde Awards are modeled after the NIH Pioneer Awards and are granted to scientists of exceptional creativity who propose high impact research that could open new avenues for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS among drug abusers.


Health Care Company Plans to Invest $10 Million in HIV Research and Care


ViiV Healthcare, formed by the pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer, will launch a four-year $10 million initiative in Baltimore and Jackson, Mississippi to increase access to HIV treatment and services among black men.


The initiative, called ACCELERATE!, will take place in these cities because of the high rates of infection among gay black men and seeks to identify the gaps and barriers to care through partnerships and local academic institutions.


Once research is conducted, officials say they will develop an approach to tackle problems in each city.


HIV Deaths Among African-Americans Drop 18% According to the CDC


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Two days before National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (February 7) a report was released Thursday by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The report states that the number of HIV-related deaths among African-Americans dropped by 18% between 2008-2012.


Despite the decline, 8,165 African-Americans lost their lives to the virus in 2012, a marked disparity that accounts for nearly half of the 17,166 teens and adults with HIV who died in total that year.


The CDC also noted that most patients who died were African-American males who contracted the virus through male-to-male sexual contact.


Conclusively, HIV testing is increasing among African-Americans, but diagnoses are still far less frequent than Caucasians.


What are your thoughts on this week’s topics? Let us know in the comments section.


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