The Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases seeks to improve the health of people everywhere, and that includes our own state of North Carolina.
Often the research questions we are asking can be answered most quickly by working internationally, where diseases are more prevalent.
But what we learn globally is applied locally.
Also, the globalization of the workforce— not to mention increased travel by our students—requires local health professionals to have knowledge of diseases that are acquired abroad.
Chapel Hill saw the early impact of the AIDS epidemic among hemophiliacs who sought treatment at the UNC Hemophiliac and Thrombosis Center. UNC infectious disease doctors watched helplessly as the hospital wards filled with patients who were dying from a mysterious new illness.
The majority of our HIV and STI research initiatives have a domestic, local component. For example, the Behavior and Technology Lab or BAT Lab at UNC is run by Lisa Hightow-Weidman, MD, MPH, an expert on social media and utilization, and evaluation of technology-based interventions addressing the Care Continuum for youth and young adults, particularly among young men who have sex with men (YMSM). The BAT Lab seeks to facilitate health behavior change through conducting technology-based research on all aspects of sexual health including factors that impact the acquisition and transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Other domestic research initiatives within UNC’s IGHID include:
- Global HIV Prevention and Treatment Clinical Trials Unit
- Center for AIDS Research
- Collaboratory of AIDS Researchers for Eradication
- Women’s Interagency HIV Study
- Acute HIV Initiative
- mHealth Working Group
- NIH STI Clinical Trials Group
- Criminal Justice Working Group
- Health on Wheels
The Institute also leads a number of training initiatives in North Carolina, including the ID Fellowship program, the NC AIDS Training and Education Center, and the annual HIV Care symposium, which is the state’s largest HIV education event and draws health care providers from all over North Carolina.
Clinically, the infectious diseases group at UNC has a very large footprint in North Carolina. In the 1970s UNC established a statewide program in infection control. Funded by the legislature, this program provides consultation and training to hospitals all over the state.
The UNC infectious diseases group ultimately came to manage nearly half of the patients with HIV in North Carolina and plays a critical and seamless role in the state’s public health services. In addition to the Infectious Diseases Clinic at North Carolina Memorial Hospital, our faculty affiliates lead the following clinical services:
- Durham County Health Department: Arlene Seña-Soberano, medical and lab director
- Lincoln HIV Clinic: Heidi Swygard, staff physician
- Wake County HIV Care Clinic: Claire Farel, medical director
- North Carolina HIV/STD Prevention and Control Branch: Heidi Swygard, medical epidemiologist and consultant for special projects
- North Carolina Department of Corrections, Division of Prisons: Becky White and David Wohl, co-directors of HIV services