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School & Program Updates

Florida Receives $2.6 Million NIAAA Grant to Support Research on Health Outcomes among People with HIV

The Southern HIV Alcohol Research Consortium (SHARC), located at the University of Florida, has received a $2.6 million grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to support its research and training activities aimed at improving HIV-related outcomes among Florida residents.

[Photo: Dr. Robert Cook]

Florida has the highest rate of new HIV infections in the U.S., and the disease affects diverse populations across age, gender, race/ethnicity and geography, said Dr. Robert Cook, the consortium’s director and a professor in the department of epidemiology at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Medicine.

The new five-year grant is a renewal of NIAAA’s support of SHARC, which was first established in 2012 as a hub of research, training and collaborative activity across Florida. SHARC’s administrative core supports researchers by offering data sharing and access to research participants and biological samples.

“SHARC will continue to focus on the impact of alcohol across the HIV care continuum, including care engagement, HIV medication adherence and HIV viral suppression, while also extending our focus to address HIV comorbid conditions such as brain and liver disease,” Dr. Cook said. “We will determine what harmful aspects of alcohol consumption are readily reversible in persons with HIV, especially in the brain.”

In addition, SHARC researchers plan to learn how people with HIV stop drinking alcohol, and use that information to develop treatments for others.

Over the next five years, SHARC members will focus on several projects, including:

“The outcomes of our research are addressing critical aspects of the HIV epidemic,” Dr. Cook said.