A University at Albany School of Public Health professor is working with colleagues at Emory University in Georgia and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to explore complex public health problems and recent findings are helping government officials make more informed decisions.
Dr. Eli Rosenberg, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UAlbany, is a co-principal investigator of the Emory Coalition for Applied Modeling for Prevention (CAMP), a research team funded by the CDC to create models that improve public health decision-making at the national, state and local levels.
Using statistical, epidemic simulation and economic models, the CAMP team is uncovering new disease patterns and informing prevention policies in five areas: HIV, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections, tuberculosis and school/adolescent health.
In one published study, Dr. Rosenberg and his team explored patterns of HIV diagnoses for black and Hispanic gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, compared to their white peers. They discovered that the rate of HIV diagnosis is significantly higher for black men than it is for white men; the national prevalence of diagnosed HIV infection was 10.8 percent for all, yet among black men it was 24.6 percent.
“These new results suggest that a person’s race/ethnicity is a stronger predictor of HIV infection burden than where they live, and health departments and community organizations can use this information to better target HIV prevention and treatment intervention specifically to communities of higher need,” Dr. Rosenberg said.
In another recent publication, the team provided the first picture of the prevalence of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and chronic HCV infection in all U.S. states among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black and Hispanic, and among males and females, for the year 2010.
The research found that nationally, non-Hispanic blacks had the highest estimated chronic HCV prevalence at 2.43 percent, followed by non-Hispanic whites at 1.05 percent and Hispanic/other races at 0.74 percent. Across the U.S., an estimated 1.56 percent of males and 0.75 percent of females have chronic HCV infection. In 41 states, males have an estimated chronic HCV prevalence that is 1.5 to 2.5 times higher than that of females.
“HCV infection continues to be a leading cause of liver disease, liver cancer and liver transplant, and these state-level estimates give us a better understanding of the epidemic and how to target treatment and prevention efforts,” said Dr. Rosenberg.
In another example, the team published a study analyzing the cost of the Hepatitis B vaccine among infants born to hepatitis B-positive mothers. After comparing a single-dose revaccination strategy with a three-dose vaccination strategy, the team discovered that a single-dose revaccination strategy was the most cost-effective option. As a result, the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices updated their recommendation to indicate a single dose is preferred.
Dr. David Holtgrave, dean of the School of Public Health, has served on the advisory board of CAMP since its inception four years ago, and asserts the importance of the work undertaken by Dr. Rosenberg and colleagues at Emory.
“CAMP is an outstanding example of how we can pull together the most recent data using state of the art mathematical modeling to frame and inform public health decision making, so as to make the biggest impact possible on the health of communities,” said Dr. Holtgrave.