School of Public Health & Partners Receive $1.5 Million to Combat Georgian HIV Epidemic 

Mark Kuniholm, associate professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and John Justino, director of the Center for Global Health, in Tbilisi, Georgia.

ALBANY NY (May 21, 2020) - With $1.5 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), faculty from the School of Public Health and SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University are collaborating with Partnership for Research and Action for Health to deliver a 5-year strategic training initiative to help combat the AIDS epidemic in the country of Georgia.

Located between the Black and Caspian seas, Georgia has a relatively small but growing HIV epidemic. Over the last decade, significant strides have been made in clinical care for HIV/AIDS patients in the country; However, in order to reduce the number of people impacted by the virus, prevention strategies need to be strengthened.

Under the program, scientists from Tbilisi State Medical University in Georgia will come to New York to receive rigorous training on interventions and strategies to enhance health programs related to HIV/AIDS. Training will include advanced doctoral-level epidemiology coursework at UAlbany’s School of Public Health (SPH) and a hands-on learning placement at the New York State Department of Health’s AIDS Institute, known for its visionary response to HIV.

“Trainees will focus on research projects that identify challenges of implementation of HIV prevention programs,” says Mark Kuniholm, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and the training program director at the UAlbany School of Public Health. “The research findings obtained through these projects will significantly improve the public health response to HIV/AIDS in Georgia.”
Faculty from SPH will also travel to Georgia to work with partners to increase teaching and research capacity at Tbilisi State University.

Collaboration with public health professionals in Georgia is nothing new for SPH: for 25 years, faculty have partnered to conduct HIV/AIDS training and research— forming close friendships and sharing important knowledge to improve the health of communities. The funding for the current 5-year collaboration began in April 2020.

“We are particularly proud of the fact that our long-time collaborator in Georgia, the Partnership for Research and Action for Health, is the lead implementing partner on this new grant,” says John Justino, Director of the Center for Global Health at UAlbany. “Our role as a supporting partner on their project allows us to continue our long-term collaborations in Georgia, supporting the development of even stronger HIV research and public health leadership capacity in this critically important part of the world.”


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