amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research
Founded in 1985, amfAR is dedicated to ending the global AIDS epidemic through innovative research. With the freedom and flexibility to respond quickly to emerging areas of scientific promise, amfAR plays a catalytic role in accelerating the pace of HIV/AIDS research and achieving real breakthroughs. amfAR-funded research has increased our understanding of HIV and has helped lay the groundwork for major advances in the study and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Since 1985, amfAR has invested $275 million in its mission and has awarded grants to more than 2,000 research teams worldwide. For more information visit www.amfar.org.
amfAR supports innovative research into the improvement of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment strategies -- strategies that might ultimately result in viral eradication. The Foundation plays a vital role in advancing emerging ideas by providing seed money to researchers for early-stage projects, and enables young researchers to establish their careers in HIV/AIDS. With amfAR's support, researchers can gather the preliminary data required by other funders of AIDS research, thus allowing a relatively small amfAR investment to be leveraged into large-scale studies of lifesaving interventions.
Since its early days, amfAR has helped healthcare workers and AIDS organizations in developing countries maximize local resources and implement effective research, treatment, prevention, and education strategies. An amfAR initiative called TREAT Asia (Therapeutics Research, Education, and AIDS Training in Asia) is a network of clinics, hospitals, and research institutions working with civil society to ensure the safe and effective delivery of HIV/AIDS treatments throughout Asia and the Pacific. The MSM Initiative, established in 2007, strives to reduce worldwide rates of HIV infection among men who have sex with men (MSM) in developing countries through small grants to grassroots groups that help expand HIV education and prevention.
Informed by thorough research and analysis, amfAR is a highly respected advocate of rational and compassionate AIDS-related public policy. The Foundation's public policy program is currently engaged in efforts to secure necessary increases in funding for HIV/AIDS research, including vaccine and microbicide research; implement a comprehensive national prevention strategy, including repeal of the current ban on federal funding for syringe exchange programs; expand access to care and treatment; and protect the civil rights of all people affected by HIV/AIDS.
Through its education and information program, amfAR distributes information on important AIDS-related research, treatment, prevention, and policy issues to a range of audiences and generates awareness of the need for better treatment and prevention methods. The Foundation also helps raise standards of HIV/AIDS care by providing medical education to doctors and healthcare workers in the U.S. and abroad.
In the Spotlight
amfAR funds cutting-edge research projects through generous contributions raised during special events and black-tie galas such as the amfAR New York Gala, Cinema Against AIDS, and Trek amfAR. amfAR's 15th annual Cinema Against AIDS gala, held May 22, 2008, at the Cannes Film Festival, raised more than $10 million for amfAR's life-saving AIDS research programs. Events such as these help bring the community together and honor those who have contributed to the fight against HIV/AIDS.
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amfAR's Key Accomplishments
In the course of its 23-year history, amfAR has contributed to numerous significant advances in HIV prevention, treatment and care. These accomplishments have helped extend, improve, and save the lives of countless people around the world living with HIV/AIDS or vulnerable to HIV infection. Major achievements include:
- Funding early studies that were critical to the development of protease inhibitors, the powerful drugs that revolutionized the treatment of HIV/AIDS and contributed to a drastic reduction in AIDS-related deaths.
- Initial identification and characterization of the compound eventually approved for clinical use as Fuzeon, the first in a new class of AIDS drugs called fusion inhibitors.
- Identification of CCR5 as a critical co-receptor for HIV, spurring the development of CCR5 blockers as possible new antiretroviral drugs and microbicides.
- Pioneering research that ultimately led to the use of antiretroviral drugs to block mother-to-infant HIV transmission. As a result, mother-to-child transmission has been all but eliminated in the industrialized world.
- Providing early support for the development of microbicides -- topical creams or gels that could be discreetly applied prior to sexual intercourse as a means of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV.
- Studies of syringe exchange programs in several cities around the U.S. showing that these programs reduce HIV transmission by 50 percent or more among participating injection drug users, without increasing illegal drug use.
- Expansion of the range of vaccine concepts, including the first study to demonstrate the potential of a DNA vaccine to slow disease progression.
- Establishment of Asia's first HIV/AIDS observational database to monitor disease course and treatment outcomes, generating information that will help improve treatment standards for patients across the continent.
- Establishment of a community-based clinical trials network, which showed that involving the HIV-positive community in clinical research expanded research capacity and expedited the drug approval process.
- Development of a technique to detect viral RNA that is now used in viral load testing and has helped improve diagnosis and monitoring of HIV infection.
- Galvanizing national leadership on HIV/AIDS and playing a key role in securing passage of federal legislation, including: Hope Act of 1988, the first comprehensive federal AIDS legislation; Ryan White CARE Act of 1990, which provides emergency relief to hard-hit states and local communities and remains a primary source of federal funding for HIV/AIDS services and care; Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, which protects people with HIV and AIDS; and the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, which strengthened NIH's Office of AIDS Research.
Latest by amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research
Steven Deeks, M.D., and colleagues seek to define the frequency of "post-treatment controllers," who maintain control of HIV growth after discontinuing antiretroviral therapy.
The assistant professor of medicine at Northwestern University discusses the challenges, and rewards, of being a gay man involved in HIV research.
Researchers have demonstrated that HIV latency can be maintained in actively growing cells, a finding that may open new avenues to abolishing latency.
A newly published study suggests that women may respond differently than men to some HIV curative interventions that are currently under investigation or, perhaps, that an effective HIV cure for women could differ from a cure for men.
Sanjabi talks about her early interest in science, her innovative research toward an HIV cure, and the importance of mentoring early career investigators.
A report on three other cases of HIV-infected individuals receiving stem cell transplants indicates the likely role that CCR5 mutation plays in HIV remission or cure.
An interview with Dan Barouch, M.D., Ph.D., on the key challenges in vaccine development, the pursuit of vaccines to potentially cure HIV and why we should be excited about antibodies.
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered a way of creating HIV- resistant cells by using antibodies to block HIV directly on the cell surface.
"Despite the challenges, gene therapy is a promising avenue in the quest for a cure," amfAR's Rowena Johnston, Ph.D., says.
Using a test tube model, researchers have been able to link specific non-coding RNAs to a group of proteins involved in establishing HIV latency.