DURHAM – The HIV Prevention Trials Network has won a seven-year funding agreement with the US National Institutes of Health, the latest agreement in a series of awards dating back more than a decade.

The first year’s funding is $21.4 million, according to a spokesperson for Durham-based FHI 360, a nonprofit human development organization.

FHI 360 has been the “leadership and operations center for the HPTN for more than 15 years and will continue to serve that role,” the spokesperson added.

AIDS, a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition, is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

HPTN is led by principal investigator Drs. Myron S. Cohen (UNC-CH and Wafaa M. El-Sadr (Columbia University). Cohen is director of the Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases at UNC.

The new funding “will enable the HPTN to continue its HIV prevention research efforts focused on developing new biomedical prevention methods and optimizing the integration of proven biomedical, behavioral and structural interventions to achieve high-effectiveness and impact,” HPTN said in a statement.

Four areas of prioirty are:

  • Identifying novel antiretroviral (ARV)-based methods and delivery systems for HIV prevention
  • Developing multi-purpose technologies for HIV prevention as well as for contraception and prevention of other sexually transmitted infections
  • Evaluating broadly neutralizing antibodies alone or in a combination that prevent HIV acquisition, in collaboration with the HIV Vaccine Trials Network
  • Designing and conducting population-specific integrated strategy studies that combine biomedical, socio-behavioral, and structural interventions for HIV prevention to maximize their effectiveness

HPTN also is a partner with the COVID-19 Prevention Network which evaluates biological agents, including vaccines and monoclonal antibodies, to prevent COVID-19.

“In the absence of an HIV vaccine, effective non-vaccine prevention tools and strategies have become critically important,” Cohen, HPTN said in a statement. “This tenet is at the core of the HPTN’s mission, moving forward research to identify biomedical interventions and integrated strategies that help reduce the global incidence of HIV.”