SFU – Robert Hogg awarded $6.5M to identify health inequities among HIV-positive populations

sfuSFU – The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has awarded a $6.5-million grant to Simon Fraser University health sciences researcher Robert Hogg. The award is among the CIHR’s inaugural Foundation Grants totaling $409 million. They have been presented to 150 established and new investigators to support a wide spectrum of innovative research programs during the next seven years.

Hogg will use the grant to continue identifying ongoing health inequities among vulnerable HIV-positive populations in British Columbia and the rest of Canada.

Hogg and his research team will investigate three key areas in HIV care and the accessibility of HIV treatment. They will study how optimism influences current sexual behavior and new infection rates among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. Such optimism stems from the availability of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), an effective treatment strategy to combat HIV/AIDS.

“Although the number of new HIV infections in British Columbia has decreased significantly in the last few years, rates of infection among these groups have not decreased as quickly,” says Hogg.

Hogg is a senior scientist in the Epidemiology and Population Health program at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) and is also principal investigator of the Canadian HIV Observational Cohort (CANOC) Collaborative Research Centre.

The internationally recognized researcher will examine how long-term use of HAART affects those who simultaneously suffer from age-associated diseases and HIV. He will also explore how different models of care impact the uptake, adherence to, and retention of HAART among vulnerable groups of infected individuals.

“People over 50 years of age represent more than half of all HIV-positive individuals in North America,” says Hogg. “We need to know more about how these individuals, who likely suffer from age-associated diseases like cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, access health care resources differently from the general population.”

Hogg says that his findings will inform new strategies to address the realities and unique needs of HIV-positive men and women over 50.

“Expanded access to HAART has greatly reduced the transmission of HIV, but it is important to remain at the forefront of this disease,” he says. “This includes identifying and responding to the challenges that are emerging from the context of accessible, effective HIV treatment.”

Joy Johnson, vice-president of research at SFU, says today’s funding announcement will continue to strengthen SFU’s uniquely diverse and community-engaged contributions to health scholarship, for the wellbeing of Canadians.

“Professor Hogg works at the cutting edge of HIV treatment research, analyzing emerging trends to inform changes in policy and practice that will improve outcomes for vulnerable populations,” says Johnson. “This major investment is proof positive of his high-impact research and his leadership in scientific and policy circles.”

Hogg’s innovative approach to reducing the transmission of HIV among vulnerable populations earned him a spot among the top 10 recipients of CIHR Foundation Grants. Over a quarter of the grant will go towards mentoring up to 10 graduate students interested in community-based and population-health research.

“The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS is delighted Dr. Hogg is among the successful applicants for the CIHR inaugural Foundation Grants. He has been part of the BC-CfE for more than 20 years and is an experienced, knowledgeable and creative researcher. He is a very deserving recipient of this award,” says Rolando Barrios, acting director of the Epidemiology & Population Health program at the BC-CfE.

In addition to the CIHR Foundation Grant awarded to Hogg, four other SFU researchers have received CIHR operating grants totaling $2.6 million. They include Ryan Allen from the Faculty of Health Sciences, Alexander Chapman from the Department of Psychology, and Steven Jones and Michel Leroux from the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry.