Vanderbilt University has been awarded a major federal grant — $16 million over four years — to coordinate AIDS education and training efforts in Tennessee and seven other southeastern states.
The Southeast AIDS Education and Training Center is moving from Emory University in Atlanta to the Vanderbilt Comprehensive Care Clinic (CCC) at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks. The center will coordinate HIV/AIDS education efforts in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee. The Southeast center is one of eight AETCs within the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The grant will provide training in HIV care and prevention skills to physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other allied health professionals, said Dr. Stephen Raffanti, professor of Medicine, medical director of the Vanderbilt CCC and the grant’s principal investigator.
“Dr. Raffanti and the CCC are doing very important work,” said Dr. Nancy Brown, Hugh J. Morgan Professor and chair of the Department of Medicine.
Despite advances in treatment and widespread education efforts, approximately 60,000 new HIV infections occur in the United States each year. Young people are at particular risk. The proportion of new infections among those 18 to 22 more than quadrupled in the past eight years, and accounts for nearly a fifth of all new patients enrolled at the Vanderbilt CCC, Dr. Raffanti said.
Much of the AETC grant will go toward providing patient-centered and inter-professional training to HIV clinics, with a special focus on minority providers and those serving minority patients. With support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CCC will partner with historically Black Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta and Meharry Medical College in Nashville. It also will draw on the expertise of Vanderbilt Peabody College of Education and Human Development, and the Vanderbilt Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy to help transform primary care practices into patient-centered medical “homes” for those with HIV.
“I am excited about how this new AETC brings together interdisciplinary experts from across the Vanderbilt campus to innovate in adult education and practice transformation,” said Dr. David Aronoff, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases.
Formerly known as the Comprehensive Care Center, the CCC has been caring for patients with HIV/AIDS in Nashville since 1994. Recently the Vanderbilt CCC was certified as a Primary Care Medical Home by the Joint Commission.
“Knowledge is not necessarily preventive power,” Dr. Raffanti said. Young people know a lot about HIV, yet still engage in high-risk behavior. The hope is that as health care providers become more knowledgeable about identifying and screening people at risk for HIV, the number of new infections will decline.