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CHARPA Scores Victory on HIV and Aging Research

February 2011

In 2010, several HIV activist organizations, including Project Inform, and individuals formed the new advocacy group CHARPA, or the Coalition for HIV and Aging Research and Policy Advocacy.

In September, CHARPA sent a letter to Dr. Anthony Fauci calling for the prioritization of research into HIV and aging at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The letter was endorsed by 113 organizations and 396 individuals and led to a meeting between CHARPA and the Office of AIDS Research (OAR), Division of AIDS (DAIDS), and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the NIH in December. According to an update sent to CHARPA members, as the result of the meeting, OAR has agreed to the following:

  1. OAR will set up a Special Initiative Working Group on HIV and Aging consisting of leading researchers and community representatives and which is slated to meet in early 2011. Members will investigate ways to advance the research, such as "issuing RFAs (Request For Applications) with set aside funding for FY2012 to look at specific research questions, and convening a meeting in 2011 with researchers running large cohorts to pool samples for analysis on HIV and aging issues. The group will make their recommendations to OAR's advisory committee."
  2. OAR has also pledged to set up an internal committee, with participation from other relevant NIH Institutes and Centers, to better coordinate multi-disciplinary research across NIH on HIV and Aging.
  3. The NIH will set up a separate tracking code for HIV and Aging grants, so that it's easier to assess ongoing research and funding levels, and to project future funding needs.
  4. OAR will work with the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) to determine whether it is feasible to set up a review section devoted to evaluating grant proposals on HIV and aging.

CHARPA noted that they've "succeeded in elevating HIV and Aging to a research priority at the NIH. Given the ominous budget environment with the new Congress, increasing funding for HIV and aging research will likely be an uphill battle. But with the establishment of the Special Initiative Working Group, we hope to see the start of better coordinated and prioritized research into this important area."

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