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ACRIA News

Winter 2006/2007


ACRIA Expanding Clinical Trials

When ACRIA was formed in December 1991, it was as a direct response to the snail-like progress of anti-HIV medical research. Under the leadership of prominent AIDS physicians and researchers, a group of doctors, activists, and people with HIV brought an activist approach to the study of new treatments for AIDS and HIV.

In the 15 years that followed, we have been involved in clinical trials of all the classes of drugs now used to treat HIV. We have been directly involved in the testing of ten drugs that now have FDA approval and are saving tens of thousands of lives. We are currently involved in nine clinical trials, some for drugs used to treat HIV and some for treatment of side effects, such as peripheral neuropathy and diarrhea, of HIV meds. (See "ACRIA Studies in Progress" in this issue for details.)

We believe we have the experience and the expertise to do more. To that end, we have hired a Clinical Trials Manager, Dolores Holman, to increase the number of trails we participate in and the number of people with HIV who participate and benefit from new drugs. In addition, we are about to hire a Research Enrollment Coordinator, who will act as a recruiter, marketing our trials directly to potential participants and to providers. Our goal is to double the size of our clinical trials efforts in the coming year.


ACRIA International

"ACRIA" stands for AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, but we are working on becoming a research initiative of the Americas, and beyond. Almost since we started publishing, ACRIA Update and our topic-specific educational booklets have crossed our borders, and we regularly send copies to agencies in Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Our growing participation in international conferences, such as the XVI International Conference on AIDS in Toronto last summer and the North American Treatment Action Form annual meeting in Oaxaca, Mexico, last year, have gained us recognition as an international service organization by the federal Office of Personnel Management and the Combined Federal Campaign, a workplace-giving program for federal employees.

We're now looking to partner with other AIDS organizations to expand our international work. Plans are already in the works to collaborate with another group to expand our work in the Caribbean and Latin America, and perhaps to set up a clinical trials site there.


Regional Training Center News

ACRIA has completed our first cycle as an AIDS Institute Regional Training Center. We would like to thank individuals from each of the agencies that offered their space and support: Kevin Huang-Cruz, Michelle Catuncan, and Melissa Nibungco at APICHA, Audria Russell at Women in Need, David Nimmons and James Learned at The Family Center, and Sharon Toney, Joseph Lunievicz, Diana Padilla, and Mary Arias-McCarthy at NDRI. Also thanks to Tony Jimenez at Cicatelli and Debra Brown and Ilvan Arroyo at Stony Brook for invaluable information. Our consultants, Karin Timour and Kim-Monique Johnson, brought their experience and wisdom to this first cycle.

In 2007 we are taking most of our trainings outside of Manhattan, thanks to the support of Jacobi Medical Center (Bridgett Binder and Miguelina "Millie" Luna), Bronx United Parents (Carrie Taft), Steinway Child and Family Services, Inc in Queens (Brendan Collins), and Women in Need, in Brooklyn.


Serving Older Adults

As we've reported earlier, ACRIA's Research on Older Adults with HIV (ROAH) report has attracted a lot of attention, and helped put the special needs of this growing population on the map. And finally, some action is being taken.

ACRIA has agreed to work with GMHC on a program for older adults at GMHC, similar to its Women's Institute. ACRIA will provide educational booklets and other printed materials to the project. Other organizations working with older adults with HIV that will participate in this partnership are Services and Advocacy for GLBT Seniors (SAGE) and Griot Circle.


New Workshop Support

Since the reprioritization of Ryan White Title I funds, ACRIA has been working diligently to find new revenue streams to support the vital services that used to operate with Ryan White money. Of particular urgency has been seeking funding for our well-attended and well-received client workshops, which have been paid for out of ACRIA's unrestricted funds since our Title I contracts ended last February. We're happy to report that we have just received word that the Elton John AIDS Foundation has awarded us $25,000 a year for the next three years to support these workshops and other HHLP services.

EJAF was founded in 1992 by Elton John, and since then has raised over $100 million to support AIDS groups in 55 countries around the world. Thank you, Sir Elton!


Policy Making

Daniel Tietz and Dr. Stephen Karpiak have been appointed to a task force of the NYC Council charged with developing policy and Council involvement in programming for HIV-positive New Yorkers over age 50.

The task force is a joint effort of the Council Committees on Aging and on Health. Tietz and Karpiak will be joined on the task force by members of the Council, representatives of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, senior services providers, HIV experts, and activists, including people with HIV. The formation of the task force is in part another outgrowth of the new attention to this population sparked by our ROAH study. In fact, several members of the ROAH Advisory Committee are represented on the task force.


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