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Division of AIDS Research (DAR)


The Division of AIDS Research (DAR) supports research to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS worldwide and to decrease the burden of living with HIV. DAR-supported research encompasses a broad range of studies that include basic and clinical neuroscience of HIV to understand and alleviate the consequences of HIV-associated central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction, basic and applied behavioral science to prevent transmission and acquisition of HIV and limit HIV-related morbidity and mortality, and the use of novel data science approaches to understand, prevent, treat, and ultimately cure HIV. DAR places a high priority on multidisciplinary and community engaged research across multiple populations, including sexual, gender, racial and ethnic minorities, over the lifespan.

The portfolio on the basic neuroscience of HIV includes research to: elucidate the mechanisms underlying HIV-induced CNS dysfunction in the setting of long-term antiretroviral therapy (ART); understand the motor, cognitive, neuropsychiatric and behavioral impairments that can result from living with HIV; develop novel treatments to prevent or mitigate the CNS complications of HIV; and, minimize the neurotoxicity induced by long-term use of ART. Critical approaches to this effort require molecular, cellular, and genetic studies to delineate the pathophysiologic mechanisms that lead to HIV-induced CNS dysfunction, as well as novel biostatistics and data science approaches to identify potential targets for therapeutic intervention. In addition, eradication of the virus from people living with HIV to achieve a cure or a functional cure is a high priority.

The behavioral science research agenda emphasizes developing, evaluating, and implementing behavioral, social, and combination interventions or strategies that are effectively integrated with biomedical approaches to significantly impact the HIV epidemic. The behavioral science agenda targets prevention of both transmission and acquisition of HIV, adherence to intervention components to reduce the burden of disease, structural and social determinants of health that impact HIV prevention and clinical care, and studies that address the behavioral consequences of HIV. A strong component of integrating behavioral and biomedical approaches is accomplished by expanding collaboration with other NIH institutes and federal agencies to leverage resources and broaden the impact of this research, particularly for the domain of implementation science.  Implementation science studies are needed to better understand how to improve access to HIV prevention and treatment at multiple levels, such as context, culture, systems, organizations, providers, support staff, consumers, family members, and policymakers. Each of these factors and stakeholders can influence the adoption, adaptation, integration, scale-up and sustainability of effective tools and interventions.

The Division supports research aligned with the NIH Office of AIDS Research Priorities , the NIMH Strategic Plan for Research, and the NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science .

Areas of high priority

  • Examine evolving pathophysiologic mechanisms of HIV-induced CNS dysfunction in the setting of long-term ART and viral suppression and develop novel therapeutic approaches to mitigate CNS complications of with HIV.
  • Support the use of state-of-the-art (epi)genetic approaches to identify and validate viral and host genetic factors that influence the pathophysiology and manifestations of HIV-induced CNS dysfunction.
  • Define and characterize HIV persistence in the CNS in the context of suppressive highly active antiretroviral therapy and foster translational research to enable eradication of HIV from the CNS.
  • Expand approaches to integrate behavioral science with effective biomedical strategies for HIV prevention and treatment.
  • Increase the efficacy and effectiveness of HIV prevention and treatment interventions or strategies beyond the individual level, by incorporating appropriate context such as the structural and social determinants of health into intervention development, testing, and evaluation.
  • Increase intervention potency and long-term maintenance of effects, with an emphasis on strategies tailored to community members and communities most affected by HIV.
  • Develop strategies to increase HIV testing, ensure timely prevention or treatment initiation, improve linkage to prevention or care, and strengthen adherence to biomedical and behavioral strategies across the lifespan.
  • Develop and test interventions to improve HIV treatment outcomes through optimal treatment adherence and sustained engagement in care.
  • Study systemic interventions to influence organizational structure, climate, and culture, to promote organizational readiness and capacity for intervention adoption, and implementation with fidelity and effectiveness.
  • Encourage examination of cost and cost-effectiveness of intervention delivery in real-world settings.
  • Support implementation science and operations research to enhance dissemination strategies and public health impact of effective interventions.
  • Use of methodological, technological, and data science approaches, including the use of novel data sources, to understand, prevent, treat, and ultimately cure HIV.
  • Optimize effective communication, dissemination, and engagement practices to advance HIV prevention, treatment, and cure.
  • Support research training at the predoctoral, postdoctoral, and early investigator level of career development in areas relevant to the focus of the Division. The program includes training both in the basic neuroscience of HIV infections, as well as the behavioral, social, and implementation science research agenda.


Dianne M. Rausch, Ph.D.
5601 Fishers Lane, Room 9D49
Rockville, MD 20852

Deputy director

Gregory Greenwood, Ph.D., M.P.H.
5601 Fishers Lane, 9A21
Rockville, MD 20852