amfAR Announces New Round of GMT Grants

Published: December 22, 2014

Winnie McCroy
Original Article:

In an effort to address the unrelenting disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on gay men, other men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender individuals — collectively known as "GMT" — amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, has awarded substantial new research grants to study the impact of innovative HIV service delivery models for GMT in low- and middle-income countries.

"Part of the problem is we don’t have a whole lot of solid evidence of what’s effective in preventing the spread of HIV in low- and middle-income countries," said Kent Klindera, director of amfAR’s GMT Initiative. "We are investing in serious research implementation science to evaluate if they’re working at reducing the spread and impact of HIV."

Through amfAR’s GMT Initiative, the awards, totaling more than $2.6 million over three years, will support three major studies aimed at determining the most effective ways of identifying those who are HIV positive, putting them on treatment, and ensuring that they remain on treatment so that their virus is fully suppressed. Identifying gaps in the continuum of HIV care — the so-called treatment cascade — and improving access to effective HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care services is essential for controlling and ultimately diminishing the epidemic among GMT.

Despite encouraging declines in the number of new HIV infections among the general population in many countries, rates of infection among GMT are unchanged or continue to climb in many settings. According to UNAIDS, gay men and other MSM are estimated to be 19 times more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population and transgender women are 49 times more likely to be living with the virus.

Underserved and at higher risk of HIV, these key affected populations are often denied access to the entire spectrum of HIV testing and treatment services due to barriers such as stigma, discrimination, and poverty.

"Research has shown that targeted interventions such as early diagnosis of HIV and suppression of viral load are critical to changing the course of the epidemic among GMT," said Kevin Robert Frost, amfAR’s Chief Executive Officer. "Through implementation science research, we want to determine conclusively which interventions work best for different populations so that these strategies can be put into practice, scaled up, replicated, and start to make a real impact."

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