June 13, 2011
Vanderbilt University researchers are working on a new study that aims to bring HIV testing and care to men who have sex with men (MSM) in China.
Sten Vermund, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health, is the project's principal investigator. The study will develop and pilot test a package of Test and Link-to-Care (TLC) interventions in Beijing. The project is being supported by a four-year, $2 million Methods for Prevention Packages Program grant from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Han-Zhu Qian, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at the university's Epidemiology Center and a VIGH faculty member, is TLC's program director.
TLC aims to provide outreach, education, and testing services to 50,000 MSM, the group that represents the largest number of HIV cases in China. Short text messages and social networking sites will encourage the men to get tested. Those who test positive will be linked to clinics or programs for care and treatment.
"If found to be successful, TLC will provide us with additional means to prevent HIV by reducing an individual's level of infectiousness to others," said Vermund. "We expect this method will reduce transmission and save lives."
TLC will work with China's National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, China's Centers for Disease Control and the Chaoyang Chinese AIDS Volunteer Group. The University of Connecticut and the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine also will participate in the study. If successful, TLC could become a multi-site, randomized clinical trial involving up to a dozen cities in China.