Undertake Limited Interaction Targeted Epidemiology for Viral Suppression

Funding News Edition: May 04, 2022
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Submit applications to support epidemiology research and advance knowledge of predictors and barriers of viral suppression through the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) Limited Interaction Targeted Epidemiology: Viral Suppression (LITE-VS) (UG3/UH3, Clinical Trial Optional)

NIAID seeks applications that propose to establish large digitally-maintained cohorts of 1,000 participants or more to prospectively investigate trajectories of HIV care engagement and viral suppression (VS), as well as temporal antecedents and multilevel predictors of changes in care engagement, antiretroviral adherence, and sustained viral suppression among persons with HIV (PWH).

Research Objective and Scope

While highly effective antiretroviral HIV treatments are available and can reduce transmission, only about two-thirds of PWH in the United States are virally suppressed within six months of diagnosis. It is challenging to enroll and follow PWH who are not regularly engaged in HIV care.

This FOA builds upon the success of earlier LITE initiatives that demonstrated the effectiveness of digital-based epidemiology studies using social media to recruit large cohorts (N > 5000) of HIV-negative men and transgender individuals who have sex with men who are living throughout the United States and its territories. These studies used mail to remotely conduct HIV tests and email, texting, and phone calls to interview and follow these cohorts in close to real-time. The main goal of LITE-VS is to fund studies using these same techniques to recruit and follow participants with HIV who report prior gaps with HIV care engagement and viral suppression.

One advantage of this approach is that it allows investigators to study sufficient numbers of participants in high-risk subgroups, such as transgender women or people in rural areas, who are difficult to reach using the usual clinic-based methods. Another advantage is that these types of studies are much less expensive than brick-and-mortar based studies, and successful interventions are inherently scalable for future HIV prevention and treatment programs. A secondary goal of the FOA is to facilitate interactions among awardees to share approaches, data, and methods, and to develop harmonization standards.

NIAID is most interested in applications that propose the following research priorities:

  • Identifying geographic areas and key sub-populations where improved HIV treatment efforts are most needed
  • Characterizing rates of sustained viral suppression across PWH as well as key subgroups that may include transgender men and women, persons who inject drugs or use non-injection drugs, and men who have sex with men
  • Mapping longitudinal trajectories of HIV care engagement, antiretroviral adherence, and viral suppression among PWH
  • Analyzing patterns of HIV treatment behaviors and outcomes in both rural and urban areas

Conversely, see the FOA for a list of criteria, which, if included, will cause NIAID to deem your application nonresponsive and return it without review. 

Additionally, investigators need to plan for and attend conference calls and meetings focused on cohort enrollment, testing, follow-up, data analysis, and appropriate intervention development.

UG3/UH3 Phased Innovation Awards 

Applications must be structured around two phases: the UG3 (phase 1) and UH3 (phase 2).

The UG3 will focus on a two-year award to demonstrate enrollment and retention of sufficient numbers of participants from populations of PWH most likely not to be retained in HIV care nor virally suppressed.

The UH3 will focus on an additional three years of funding to conduct epidemiologic research to advance further knowledge of when, where, and how lack of sustained viral suppression among PWH currently occurs in the United States and may include clinical trials to test digitally-delivered interventions to promote HIV care engagement, antiretroviral therapy adherence, and viral suppression. Digital behavioral trials and interventions to improve viral suppression or experiment with different recruitment and follow-up methods are permitted but not required.

NIH staff will determine whether applicants can transition to the UH3 award through evaluation of Go/No-Go Transition Milestones accomplishment.

Budget and Project Period

Applications are due by August 3, 2022, at 5 p.m. local time of the applicant organization.

Application budgets are not limited but should reflect the actual needs of the proposed project which may be up to five years. The project period for the first phase (UG3) can be up to two years and up to three years for the second phase (UH3). 

Contact Information

Direct any questions to Dr. Gerald Sharp, NIAID’s scientific/research contact at 240-627-3217 or GSharp@niaid.nih.gov.  Direct any questions about peer review to Dr. Poonam Pegu, NIAID’s peer review contact at 240-292-0719 or Poonam.pegu@nih.gov.

Contact Us

Email us at deaweb@niaid.nih.gov for help navigating NIAID’s grant and contract policies and procedures.

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