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Hospitalist Receives Harvard Grant

Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital hospitalist and infectious disease specialist Pooja R. Chitneni, MD, has recently been awarded a grant from the Harvard University Center for AIDS Research (HU CFAR).

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, HU CFAR grants support research in molecular virology, pathogenesis, host immune responses, epidemiology, treatment, vaccines and prevention. With her grant, Dr. Chitneni seeks to create and validate a tool to measure HIV disclosure in Uganda.

“HIV disclosure is associated with good clinical outcomes, including increased social support, increased adherence to antiretroviral medications and decreased HIV viral loads,” explains Dr. Chitneni. “However, we know little about how to support people with HIV to safely disclose their serostatus to their loved ones so that they can reap these benefits.”

Dr. Chitneni has spent a significant amount of time in Uganda in both a clinical and research capacity. Her ongoing work seeks to continue those efforts. “I have learned that HIV disclosure is often not a yes/no event, and that even the definition of disclosure can be murky,” she says. “For instance, I have had patients report that they believed that they had disclosed their HIV status to a partner by simply leaving their medication bottle on the kitchen table for their partner to find. But, without clear communication between the patient and their partner, we don’t know whether the partner even saw the bottle. This indirect communication is just one example of what I plan to better understand and capture in the form of an HIV disclosure measurement tool with support of this award.”

The HU CFAR provides research, education and training opportunities to HU CFAR members across Harvard University and its affiliates through services that are in direct response to member needs. The organization’s goals include creating synergistic multidisciplinary collaborations among the diverse HU CFAR affiliated HIV/AIDS researchers and their trainees; promoting innovative research capable of more effectively addressing key HIV/AIDS related research questions; and attracting, engaging, supporting and mentoring the next generation of early career scientists into HIV/AIDS research.

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