Why World AIDS Day Matters

News on December 1st, 2016 Comments Off on Why World AIDS Day Matters

Written by 

December 1st is World AIDS Day.  A day to reflect on the HIV pandemic, and all of the men and women who have lost their lives to the virus – as well as the 36.7 million people currently living with HIV across the globe, including some 1.2 million here in the U.S.

Many people think – incorrectly – that because we have effective antiviral drugs, HIV is no longer a problem.  But that’s simply not true.  Worldwide, slightly less than half of the people living with HIV have access to these life-saving medicines.  Worse yet, in some countries, the rate of HIV infection has actually begun to increase again.

Here in the U.S., data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tell us that only 3 out of 10 people living with HIV have their infection under control.  Moreover, new HIV infections in this country are still occurring at a rate of almost 40,000 people a year.   That’s simply unacceptable.

Which is why it is so important that New York State, Monroe County and the City of Rochester – in combination with key community partners such as Trillium Health and the Mocha Center – have all committed themselves to ending the local and regional AIDS epidemic by 2020.

In fact, New York is the first state in the nation to have a plan to end the epidemic – which includes expanding HIV testing, ensuring that people living with HIV get the medicines they need, and increasing access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent new infections.

The other piece of the puzzle is to continue research on HIV, so that we can develop a vaccine, find more effective and longer-lasting treatments, understand how to keep people living with HIV healthy as they grow older – and ultimately find a cure for the virus.  Finally, it’s worth remembering that – according to the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR) – HIV research has broad benefits and has led to “many new treatments for diseases such as cancer, hepatitis, heart disease, and osteoporosis”.

As we recognize World AIDS Day, we should also recognize that this is not a time for complacency or for telling ourselves that we have won the fight against HIV.  It is a time for action.  For redoubling efforts, at every level – from global, to national, to local.

Source article: http://blogs.democratandchronicle.com/rocnext/2016/12/01/why-world-aids-day-matters/

World AIDS Day Webinar: Getting to Zero in the Black Community in the US

Events, News on November 22nd, 2016 Comments Off on World AIDS Day Webinar: Getting to Zero in the Black Community in the US

The UR CFAR is pleased to announce the availability of a new World AIDS Day webinar titled Getting to Zero in the Black Community in the US: Preliminary Findings from the National Survey on HIV in the Black Community (NSHBC) to be held on December 15, 2016 at 3:00 pm (ET). After many months of careful strategic planning, the NSHBC was crafted, developed and implemented.

This webinar can be viewed independently through the link below or at the University of Rochester School of Nursing Auditorium (HWH 1W304). It will be followed by a panel discussion.

National Survey on HIV in the Black Community

The goal of the NSHBC was to develop and administer a survey focused on the cultural, psychosocial, and structural factors that are driving the HIV epidemic amongst Black individuals in the United States. By focusing solely and comprehensively on Black individuals this survey allowed for a more nuanced understanding of the root causes of HIV within our target population. The new knowledge that will be created will better explain persistent disparities in the HIV epidemic in the US and directly inform interventions and policy change.

Discussion Topics

  • Review data from the survey
  • Discuss plans for the first few papers
  • Next steps

 Webinar Speakers

  • Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Harvard University
  • Dr. Laura Bogart, RAND Corporation
  • Dr. Alecia Mc Gregor, Tufts University


  • LaRon Nelson, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor and the Dean’s Endowed Fellow in Health Disparities at the School of Nursing
  • Natalie Leblanc, R.N., M.P.H., Ph.D., post-doctoral associate in HIV Prevention Science at the School of Nursing
  • Reverend Weldon Thomas, senior pastor, New Bethel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
  • Naimah Sierra, Vice President, Community Services Division, Action for a Better Community

Register now to join us live, Thursday, December 15, 2016 at 3:00 – 4:30 PM ET, for an in-depth discussion on the preliminary research findings from the NSHBC initiative. The panel discussion will follow from 4:30 – 5:00 PM ET at the in-person event only. (It will not be broadcast.)

Registration link to join the webinar independently: https://cfar.webex.com/cfar/onstage/g.php?MTID=ed974d8756380b6e7be92c93014d53a73

Parking will be available in the Saunders Research Building parking lot (map). RSVP to Laura Enders to secure a parking pass.

Nelson Receives International Honor for HIV Disparities Research

News on September 29th, 2016 Comments Off on Nelson Receives International Honor for HIV Disparities Research

LaRon Nelson was recognized for his work improving HIV care, being named the inaugural Research Chair in HIV Program Science for African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) Communities by the Ontario HIV Treatment Network.

The Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN) has selected University of Rochester Assistant Professor of Nursing and UR Center for AIDS Research Associate Director of International Research LaRon E. Nelson, Ph.D., R.N., F.N.P. to be its inaugural OHTN Research Chair in HIV Program Science for African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) Communities. Dr. Nelson also assists with the AMP Study, a research study conducted locally by the Rochester Victory Alliance, as an investigator.

In order to better provide integrated health services for populations most affected by HIV, the OHTN has launched a new program to promote health service innovation, naming three new applied HIV research chairs.

“Each of these research leaders has a unique vision for improved HIV care,” said Tony Di Pede, chair of the OHTN Board of Directors. “The review process identified leaders with the proven ability to work with people and communities across the health care system to investigate and implement solutions.”

Nelson will be appointed as a scientist with the Centre for Urban Health Solutions in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, where he will build on his previous successful implementation of a self-determination-theory-based public health strategy to support HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis uptake and adherence among Black men who have sex with men in three U.S. cities (Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; and Durham, N.C.). In Ontario, Nelson will lead research focused on reducing HIV disparities in ACB communities across the HIV continuum of care, from prevention to care outcomes, such as symptom management and viral suppression.

This is the second major honor for Nelson in Canada. In 2011, the Canadian government named him one of the nation’s Rising Stars in Global Health.

“I am excited for the opportunity to continue applying my expertise in public health nursing and HIV research to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in HIV infection and care outcomes in communities outside of the United States” said Nelson.

Sixty percent of all African, Caribbean and Black Canadians live in the province of Ontario, which is home to Toronto, the fourth largest metropolitan area in North America. ACB communities in the province are disproportionately affected by HIV. Although these communities make up less than 5 percent of Ontario’s population, they accounted for 25 percent of all new HIV diagnoses in 2015, according to the OHTN.

As the newly appointed OHTN Research Chair in HIV Program Science for African, Caribbean and Black Communities, Nelson will lead program science research on the design, evaluation, translation, and implementation of evidence-based interventions and public health strategies. He will work with regional health departments, community partners, policy makers, and an interdisciplinary team of scientists to implement multilevel prevention packages that are optimized to the needs of ACB communities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), which can then be replicated in other Ontario communities.

Nelson’s work in the GTA will start with ACB communities, individuals living with HIV, community service and public health providers in the Region of Peel. The team will help efforts to improve upon coordination and integration of HIV prevention, diagnosis and care for the rapidly growing ACB communities who are migrating west to the region. The new program will use customized mobile technology to address common barriers to prevention and care. Nelson will also develop and mentor a network of early-stage ACB Canadian researchers across Ontario.

Source: URMC Newsroom – Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Testing New Ways to Enroll At-Risk Populations in Clinical Research

News on September 16th, 2016 Comments Off on Testing New Ways to Enroll At-Risk Populations in Clinical Research

When it comes to HIV infection risk, the odds are heavily stacked against a relatively small population of people who share a set of specific characteristics. Young men of color who have sex with men and transgender individuals are at “ultra-high” risk for contracting HIV, but have historically made up a very small portion of volunteers for HIV clinical trials.

To increase enrollment of this specific population in an HIV prevention trial, John Cullen, Ph.D., director of Diversity and Inclusion at the UR Clinical and Translational Science Institute and assistant director at the UR Susan B. Anthony Center, says addressing potential study participants’ biopsychosocial needs may be the key.

Cullen recently received an award from the HIV Vaccine Trials Network to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of computer tablet-based “e-screening” compared to traditional screening for recruiting and retaining high-risk individuals into the Antibody Mediated Prevention (AMP) Study. Cullen will test the e-screening tool in collaboration with the Rochester Victory Alliance, a local study site for the AMP study, which tests whether HIV-attacking antibodies can protect participants from infection.

This e-screening tool, called Promote Health, will ask potential clinical trial participants questions about their biopsychosocial needs, in particular, the presence of basic needs (shelter, food, health insurance, etc.) as well as trauma (adverse childhood experiences/intimate partner violence). At the end of the survey, participants will receive a personalized list of free, local resources to help them address their needs.

The survey will be given as a randomized controlled trial. Half of the subjects will be given a list of pre-screened questions for the AMP Study (traditional screening) and a general list of community resources, while the other half will receive the pre-screened AMP Study questions embedded within the Promote Health survey and a personalized list of community resources.

Cullen will analyze whether individuals from the group that took the Promote survey were more likely to enroll in the AMP Study. He will also follow the participants for 6 months to see whether they take advantage of any of the recommended resources and if their health and wellbeing improves.

“It is a hope that eventually we could use this in general clinical trials as a way of increasing enrollment – or enrolling individuals that we haven’t been able to enroll before or are hard to reach – by addressing their biopsychosocial needs,” says Cullen.

Though the Promote Health survey has never before been tested for its effect on willingness to enroll in a clinical trial, it has previously been shown to positively impact the health of those surveyed. For this reason, any individuals who are screened with the traditional method and do not meet the criteria for enrollment in the HIV prevention trial will be given the opportunity to take the health survey.

Cullen is also a co-investigator on a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute award that will assess the effectiveness of Promote in improving health, safety, and quality of life for victims of violence.

Susanne Pritchard Pallo | 9/15/2016

Source: URMC CTSI, click here for online article

National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS

News on March 1st, 2016 Comments Off on National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS

2016 NWPHA Flyer

February 4, 2016: The State of HIV in Black America

News, Uncategorized on January 6th, 2016 Comments Off on February 4, 2016: The State of HIV in Black America

state of HIV p1

World AIDS Day Scientific Symposium Highlights Vaccine Research, Honors Students, Trainees, Community Leader

News on December 2nd, 2015 Comments Off on World AIDS Day Scientific Symposium Highlights Vaccine Research, Honors Students, Trainees, Community Leader

Original Source: Research@URMC

In celebration of World AIDS Day, held every year on December 1, the University of Rochester Center for AIDS Research (UR CFAR) hosted a scientific symposium. Guest lecturer Dan Barouch, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, highlighted that the best hope for controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which has claimed the lives of 39 million people around the world, is the development of a safe and effective vaccine. Barouch outlined the challenges of developing an HIV vaccine–there are many–and new strategies being studied, including an HIV vaccine pill that was tested at the University of Rochester Medical Center by infectious disease expert John J. Treanor, M.D., and HIV vaccine expert and co-director of the UR CFAR Michael C. Keefer, M.D.

The second speaker of the day, Stephen Goff, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and Microbiology and Immunology at Columbia University Medical Center, discussed his research on silencing different types of viruses. Silencing involves preventing viruses from making copies of themselves inside their host cells. Goff’s hope is that by understanding the specific cellular mechanisms that naturally silence certain viruses he can figure out a way to apply this information to HIV or human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS.William Valenti and Stephen Dewhurst

Stephen Dewhurst, Ph.D., vice dean for research and director of the UR CFAR presented the CFAR’s new Community Partner Award to William Valenti, M.D., co-founder and staff physician at Trillium Health. The award seeks to recognize those who have exemplified commitment and leadership in developing community collaboration with the CFAR in the HIV/AIDS research field. Valenti, the founding recipient of the award, was selected for his long-standing partnership with UR, his pioneering contributions to community engagement in HIV/AIDS-related health care and research, and his profound commitment, since the beginning of the epidemic, to ensuring that persons living with HIV/AIDS in the Rochester area receive the most innovative and effective care possible. (Valenti (left) and Dewhurst (right) pictured.)

The symposium also included a poster session with posters from undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral associates training at the University. The posters were judged by various faculty members and the most innovative and promising projects were recognized. Award winners include:

·         John Rice: Clinical/translational research conducted by a post-doctoral fellow

·         Jenneta Hammond: Basic science research conducted by a post-doctoral fellow

·         Rohit Nayak: Clinical/translational research conducted by a student

·         Thomas Hilimire: Basic science research conducted by a student

·         Shihao Xu: Basic science research conducted by a student

Emily Boynton | 12/2/2015

Victory Alliance Shows Support for Prostate Cancer Survivors

News on September 21st, 2015 Comments Off on Victory Alliance Shows Support for Prostate Cancer Survivors

The Rochester Victory Alliance attended the “I Support Educate Advocate (SEA) Blue Prostate Cancer Walk/Run” on Sunday, September 21, 2015 at Genesee Valley Park in Rochester, NY.

The Walk/Run helps fund Us TOO International, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, committed to providing prostate cancer survivors and their families with educational resources and support services free of charge.


Outreach workers, Andrew Moran (left) and Chad Brizendine(right), are pictured above – joined by a local clown (center), who was part of the festivities.


Uncategorized on May 12th, 2015 Comments Off on HIV VACCINE AWARENESS DAY

Dr. Larry Corey

Principal Investigator, HVTN

Larry_Corey_2010_51_MASTERFILE_fixed_reduced size

HIV Vaccine Awareness Day 2015 marks an important milestone in our field with an unprecedented return of energy and optimism.  Several studies evaluating new vaccine regimens are being initiated in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as parts of the US and South America.  The long awaited P5 program has begun, as has the program involving Johnson and Johnson laboratory, Janssen.  There is both enthusiasm and optimism that the milestones for advancement of these new vaccine products will occur and efficacy evaluation will be initiated next year.

Getting to this point has involved the work done by thousands of scientists, clinical staff, community advocates and most importantly, trial volunteers.  Our goal is to develop a vaccine that will make a dent in the epidemic for all high risk groups globally.  In the last few months, we have added an additional biomedical intervention; one we call Antibody Mediated Prevention (AMP).  We will also be starting a trial using broadly neutralizing antibodies on a bi-monthly basis to reduce HIV acquisition, in partnership with the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN).  This AMP trial has the potential to be a landmark trial for both HIV prevention and providing a new framework for HIV vaccine development.

In his keynote address at the Keystone Symposia this past March, Dr. Tony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, outlined the journey we have been on toward an HIV vaccine, and his determination to find one, saying, “We do not have an option for failure.”   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iHK3B-g7GI&feature=youtu.be  With an estimated 2 million new infections in the coming year alone, we know our best long term hope for a sustainable end to the spread of HIV is a safe and effective vaccine, and I can see the finish line.  It will take a lot of hard work.  It will take determination to reach our goal.  Most of all, it will take the teamwork and support of our HIV prevention community, from the networks to the local sites to the communities at large.  It will take the hard work and passion of each of us whose lives have been touched by this disease to say, we will not allow this epidemic to continue.  It will take you.

Source: http://www.hvtn.org/en/resources/hiv-awareness/hvad-2015.html

U of R Begins Trial on Potential Oral HIV Vaccine

News on March 17th, 2015 Comments Off on U of R Begins Trial on Potential Oral HIV Vaccine

Published in The Empty Closet,
Article by Adam Young

Researchers at the University of Rochester HIV Vaccine Trials Unit are conducting the first study in Rochester of a potential oral HIV vaccine.

The hope is that by delivering the vaccine in pill form via the “mucosal surface” of the mouth, the immune system’s fight will be strengthened from the get-go.

Dr. Michael Keefer, Director of the HIV Vaccine Trials Unit of the Rochester Victory Alliance at the U of R, is one of the doctors leading the study. “The idea is that by delivering it through these capsules we get it to the place where it can create these better immune responses on mucosal surfaces, which is where HIV first encounters the T4 cells when it causes infection in people,” Dr. Keefer said.

The theory behind the oral delivery of the Harvard-developed vaccine is that the capsules can weather the participant’s stomach acid to reach the immune system at a greater depth and not be inactivated by the stomach. The main component of the vaccine, Adenovirus 26, is expected to trigger an immune response from the body that may be capable of combatting HIV. Though the vaccine may cause some “bug”-like symptoms, Dr. Keefer expects the vaccine will produce no serious symptoms in the trial participants. Since the vaccine contains no living or killed HIV, it is impossible to contract HIV from the vaccine.

The study is a “dose escalation” study. Four groups, each consisting of six HIV-negative participants between the ages of 18 and 40, will be under isolated observation at a site at St. Mary’s Hospital. Assuming the first group tolerates the initial dosage with no serious side effects, the dosage will be gradually escalated throughout each remaining group. Participants will be observed and isolated throughout the duration of the study to ensure the vaccine causes no serious symptoms and to prevent the possibility of spreading the Adenovirus to others.

“Our main concern is that [it’s] safe,” Dr. Keefer said. “Effectiveness is the next thing we want to achieve.”

In order to combat the adaptability of HIV, Dr. Keefer stated the vaccine may need to be combined with other types of HIV vaccines to ultimately be effective. The one-two punch approach may be necessary to prevent virus immunity from fading over time. “We need to get the immune response to recognize the three-dimensional structures as opposed to just the linear structures on the virus,” Dr. Keefer said.

After 27 years of preventive HIV vaccine research, Dr. Keefer believes this oral vaccine could be another piece of the puzzle in moving toward a safe, effective HIV vaccine. He is confident the study will go well and it will move on to larger studies, and ultimately licensure studies. “I could see it making a fast track into larger studies. But this is the first thing we have to do and it does take a while to move through these phases of studies,” Dr. Keefer said.

For more information about the work of the Rochester Victory Alliance, visit www.rochestervictoryalliance.org or call (585) 756-2329.

Source article first published March 2, 2015: http://www.gayalliance.org/emptycloset/2015/03/u-of-r-begins-trial-on-potential-oral-hiv-vaccine/