The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently released two funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) to support multidisciplinary studies of HIV and viral hepatitis co-infection. The opportunities were issued under NIH’s R01 or Research Project Grant program and R21 or Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant program. NIH notes that the FOAs were informed by priority areas in the Action Plan for the Prevention, Care, and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis, which also calls for advancing research that will facilitate viral hepatitis prevention and enhance care and treatment for infected persons.
In the U.S., an estimated 3.5-5.3 million people are living with viral hepatitis infection and 1.1 million people are living with HIV infection. Because HIV, hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV) share common modes of transmission, approximately one-third of HIV-infected persons are co-infected with HBV or HCV; among some groups, the rates of co-infection are even higher. Because the progression of viral hepatitis is accelerated among persons with HIV, persons who are co-infected experience greater risk of viral persistence, advanced liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, hepatocellular carcinoma, and liver-related death compared to persons without HIV. In an effort to avert these consequences, particularly for persons living with HIV, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to explore “(a) the interactions between HIV and hepatitis viruses, (b) co-morbidities associated with HIV/hepatitis virus co-infection, and (c) the effectiveness of interferon-free, direct-acting antiviral drug regimens to treat HIV/HCV co-infection.”
Six institutes within the NIH are participating in the FOAs: the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID); the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The FOAs note that research should focus on HIV-infected adults, pregnant/postpartum women, adolescents, children, infants, and sub-populations at highest risk for HBV or HCV co-infection. Examples of specific areas of research interest for each institute are detailed in the FOAs.
Now is a critical time to act on opportunities to improve our understanding of HIV and viral hepatitis comorbidities and improve related care.
Read the R01 FOA here; read the R21 FOA here.
Read more about HIV-viral hepatitis co-infection.