$6.2 million grant renews Alcohol Research Center on HIV funding for five years

By Laura Joyce, Communications Specialist, School of Public Health

The grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism will fund the center, based at Brown’s School of Public Health, as researchers work to reduce the impact of alcohol misuse on the HIV epidemic.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] – The Alcohol Research Center on HIV (ARCH), a multidisciplinary program in the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at the Brown University School of Public Health, has been awarded $6.2 million in renewed funding.

A federal grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) will fund for the next five years collaborative research projects aimed at evaluating the most effective ways to address alcohol misuse in HIV prevention and care.

Alcohol misuse is a major driver of the HIV epidemic, impacting the spread and treatment of the virus both in the United States and globally. By increasing sexual risk behaviors, reducing adherence to antiretroviral therapy and increasing HIV-associated illnesses and mortality, alcohol misuse both increases the prevalence of the virus and diminishes the health of those living with HIV. The ARCH, launched with funding from the NIAAA in 2010, has studied the impact of alcohol misuse on HIV prevention and on the HIV care continuum for the past decade.

Principle investigator Christopher Kahler, a professor of behavioral and social sciences at Brown, called the center’s first 10 years “remarkably successful,” with research projects taking on major challenges related to alcohol misuse and HIV, and with training that has launched the careers of multiple early-career scientists.

Our strength in research on alcohol and HIV now features prominently in the Providence/Boston Center for AIDS Research, establishing Brown as a national leader in research on this topic.

Christopher Kahler Chair of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Christopher Kahler

Through its ongoing collaborations with the Providence/Boston Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), Fenway Health, the University of Florida, and Florida International University, ARCH researchers have investigated the combined effects of alcohol and HIV on brain structure and function, on the effects of behavioral alcohol interventions among men with HIV who have sex with men, and on the effects of alcohol use on sexual decision making and behavior among men who have sex with men.

“Our strength in research on alcohol and HIV now features prominently in the Providence/Boston CFAR,” Kahler said, “establishing Brown as a national leader in research on this topic.”

The new five-year NIAAA award will support studies focused on strategies to increase the reach of alcohol use interventions in HIV prevention and care. Two projects will examine technology-assisted interventions, including a web-based app to reduce alcohol use among gay and bisexual men completing home testing for HIV, and counseling via videoconferencing to address alcohol misuse in people receiving HIV care. A third project will examine the implementation of training for counselors to address alcohol misuse in HIV care settings in South Africa.

According to Kahler, the renewal of the ARCH is organized around the central theme that in order to achieve population impact, interventions addressing alcohol misuse in HIV prevention and care need to be evaluated with an emphasis on real-world effectiveness, scalability and sustainability, with the goal of implementing evidence-based practices into clinical health care settings.

“I am particularly excited about this next segment of funding,” Kahler said. “It demonstrates the evolution of the ARCH from documenting consequences of alcohol use on HIV outcomes, to implementing interventions in a diversity of settings that can make population impact and influence systems of HIV prevention and care.”

Other Brown University investigators at the center include Peter Monti (deputy director), Tyler Wray, Tao Liu, Caroline Kuo, Sara Becker, Mollie Monnig, Mark Celio, Stavroula Chrysanthopoulou and Rani Elwy.

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