Closing the Gap in HIV/AIDS Research

A disproportionate number of HIV patients come from racially and economically disadvantaged groups. Now, a new research and education institute at Yale has received a $1.3 million grant to address a documented shortage of research scientists from this same population.

The goal of the Research Education Institute for Diverse Scholars (REIDS) is to create a pipeline of scientists who come from the same communities where the risk of HIV infection and transmission is greatest.

“This program is of vital importance to our efforts to increase the impact of HIV/AIDS research on the course of the epidemic in the United States and other parts of the world,” said Paul D. Cleary, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA) at Yale and dean of the School of Public Health.

Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the rate of AIDS for black adults and adolescents is 10 times that of their white peers. The rate of new AIDS diagnoses among Latinos is three times that of white men, with a five- fold increase among Latinas. Studies also show that HIV prevalence in impoverished urban areas is significantly higher than the general population. Yet research scientists from groups and communities most impacted by HIV/AIDS remain significantly underrepresented among funded HIV researchers.

“There is a compelling need to close the existing gaps in mentoring and research education for new investigators in these specific groups,” said Barbara Guthrie, an associate dean for academic affairs at the Yale School of Nursing and one of the Institute’s founders.

Researchers will benefit from a combination of sustained mentorship, a summer institute—involving a classroom-based curriculum—applied learning in community settings and an opportunity to design and conduct pilot projects. Four scholars will be recruited annually, selected for their interest in community-based research and HIV disparities.

Funded with a grant by the National Institute of Mental Health, the Institute will be housed at CIRA. The institute is a partnership between the School of Nursing, the Institute for Community Research (ICR) and the University of Connecticut’s Center for Health, Intervention, and Prevention. Jean Schensul of ICR and Merrill Singer of UConn are founding members.

For more information about REIDS, contact program manager Jon Atherton.

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