This issue of the Journal includes six papers developed by members of the New York Area HIV Research Centers Consortium. The Consortium was founded in 2002 to further inter-institutional and multi-disciplinary collaborations between HIV/AIDS researchers in the New York area. As members of 21 research organizations in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, Consortium investigators address a broad range of bio-medical and socio-behavioral aspects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The first scientific conference of the Consortium was held in December 2003, with approximately 130 HIV/AIDS investigators attending, and was partially funded by the NIH Office of AIDS Research. The conference included plenary panel discussions and workgroups charged with developing recommendations for urgent and emergent research needs in the epidemic. The six papers in this issue emanated from the Conference workgroups, and their authorship represents cross-Center, inter-disciplinary efforts.
Each paper provides a summary of the research in a particular critical area and makes recommendations for future research directions. The papers address a range of topics, from basic science to clinical to population issues. The first paper, by Marmor et al. (Resistance to HIV Infection), focuses on the finding that some individuals appear to possess a natural resistance to HIV infection or its consequences; studying their characteristics may enhance understanding of the interplay between biological, psychological and sociological factors and lead to new intervention efforts. The next two papers identify research issues that have emerged as the epidemic has matured in the 25 years since the AIDS virus was first identified and as new medications have lengthened survival and quality of life for those who are HIV-infected. The paper by Wilson et al. (Integrating HIV Prevention Activities into the HIV Medical Care Setting) focuses on challenges in delivering HIV care and treatment while incorporating prevention activities to ensure sustained risk reduction. Kohli et al. (Aging and HIV Infection) identify a research agenda for co-morbid conditions that increase with aging and may be affected by HIV disease. The paper by Shedlin et al. (Immigration and HIV/AIDS in the New York Metropolitan Area) emphasizes the importance of studying mobile and immigrant groups to understand facilitators and obstacles to HIV prevention and transmission in these populations; examples based on research with specific immigrant groups are provided. Blankenship et al. (Structural Interventions: Concepts, Challenges and Opportunities for Research) discuss public health efforts aiming to alter the structural context for health and thus addresses macro-level interventions. The final paper, by Chiasson et al. (HIV Behavioral Research Online), addresses a methodological development by reviewing research on the impact of internet access on research on sexual risk and prevention among MSM, including ethical issues that must be addressed.
The recommendations from all six papers provide a research agenda in critical areas of HIV-related research. This agenda can be used by policy makers, funding agencies and researchers in the development and implementation of a strategic plan for multi-disciplinary future research.