Research Group Releases New White Paper on Molecular HIV Epidemiology

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The project was led by Ann M. Dennis, MD, MS, in the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine.

Ann M. Dennis, MD, MS

The Dennis Research Group in the School of Medicine has released a new white paper titled, “Revitalizing Community Engagement in the Public Health Use of Molecular HIV Epidemiology.”

The paper is a product of the UNC Ethics of HIV Molecular Surveillance Project, funded through an administrative supplement to the NIAID-funded R01 Phylodynamics Response, Monitoring, & Prevention of Transmission (HIV PROMPT; PI Ann Dennis, R01Al135970).

The research team engaged with diverse stakeholders in North Carolina, including community members living with HIV, health care providers, public health leaders and professionals, community advocates, and bioethicists, through a multi-phase engagement process. The team conducted 41 qualitative interviews exploring participants’ views on ethical considerations surrounding MHE and community engagement practices, and then shared and discussed our research findings at two virtual town hall meetings. Ultimately, this process informed the development of four key guidance points to revitalize community engagement around molecular HIV epidemiology (MHE) in NC, with potential broader applicability to other states.

“Public health technologies are rapidly progressing, and meaningful engagement of communities around efforts to monitor and respond to HIV outbreaks is critical to inform approaches that optimize potential benefits and minimize risks for those most affected,” said Ann M. Dennis, MD, MS, the project’s principal investigator and an associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases. “These recommendations provide an actionable framework for stakeholders in North Carolina and beyond to revitalize community engagement around molecular HIV epidemiology, because we all have to all work together to end this epidemic.”

The white paper was prepared by the PROMPT Bioethics Study Team, which includes Dennis, Suzanne Day, PhD, MA; Stuart Rennie, PhD; and Kristen Sullivan, PhD.

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