HIV rates in the U.S. South remain higher than in any other region in the country. To address this problem, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will expand the funding of ongoing research across the South.

Specifically, the NIH will fund Centers for AIDS Research (CFARs), which are already-existing centers for HIV-related research at academic institutions. As part of this new initiative, the CFARs can compete to receive up to $300,000 per year.

According to an NIH press release, the funding arrives from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of the NIH. The supplemental funding for the CFARs will be available in early 2019.

Funding local CFARs is an ideal way to help fight the epidemic in the South because the research centers are already familiar with local communities and public health departments and their needs and also have a relationship with the NIH.

“The Centers for AIDS Research are our research boots on the ground, working in diverse communities nationwide,” said NIAID director Anthony S. Fauci, MD, in the press release. “This new initiative harnesses their local expertise to design smart, innovative ways to fill the gaps in HIV treatment and prevention care that are pervasive in the U.S. South.”

The initiative will focus on CFARs that connect people to care and treatment and keep them engaged. This is important because people with HIV who adhere to daily meds and maintain an undetectable viral load not only live longer and healthier lives but also cannot transmit the virus sexually.

In addition, the initiative will fund efforts to support pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP and PEP), two interventions that keep HIV-negative people from contracting the virus.

CFARs are cofounded and managed by 14 institutes and centers in eight different Southern states. Those eligible for the funding are:

  • Atlanta (Emory University)

  • Baltimore (Johns Hopkins University)

  • Birmingham, Ala. (University of Alabama at Birmingham)

  • Chapel Hill, N.C. (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

  • Durham, N.C. (Duke University)

  • Miami (University of Miami)

  • Nashville, Tenn. (Vanderbilt University School of Medicine/Meharry Medical College)

  • Washington, DC (George Washington University, American University, Children’s National Medical Center, Georgetown University, Howard University, Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Whitman-Walker Health/DC Department of Health)