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Letters from the Director: Fiscal Year (FY) 2019/2020 NIH Strategic Plan for HIV and HIV-Related Research

The NIH Office of AIDS Research (OAR) recently released the FY 2019/2020 NIH Strategic Plan for HIV and HIV-Related Research. The Plan was developed in consultation with a broad network of HIV research stakeholders, including NIH and extramural scientific experts, advisory committee members, community representatives, and people with HIV.

Per its Congressional authorization, OAR coordinates the distribution of HIV research funds across the NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices to advance the HIV research agenda, ensuring that those funds are aligned with the NIH HIV research priorities.

Priorities for the FY 2019/2020 NIH Strategic Plan for HIV and HIV-Related Research

Reduce the Incidence of HIV: Preventing new infections is crucial to ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The NIH HIV prevention research agenda includes biomedical— vaccine and non-vaccine—approaches and behavioral and social sciences research. Integrated strategies—such as safe, effective, and affordable biomedical interventions combined with behavioral and social science–based approaches—remain a high priority for the NIH.

Develop Next-Generation HIV Therapies: The NIH will continue to support a comprehensive HIV therapeutics research portfolio that includes basic sciences research, drug discovery, and preclinical drug development. Clinical studies and resulting interventions must include participants from groups most affected by HIV.

Research Toward an HIV Cure: The NIH is the major sponsor of research toward a cure for HIV. Such research has revealed that HIV persists in the body in “sanctuary sites” that protect it from immune response and combination ART (cART), even when the virus is undetectable in the blood. Better understanding of the dynamics of the HIV reservoir will lead to new therapies for sustained, ART-free viral remission and eradication. Studies examining the ethical considerations and acceptability of cure research across the lifespan and in diverse populations are vital to the NIH’s HIV cure research agenda.

Address HIV-Associated Comorbidities, Coinfections, and Complications (CCCs): The NIH is committed to research that will establish the etiology, prevalence, and clinical relevance of HIV-associated CCCs in different settings. Limited resources demand that efforts focus on the conditions for which interventions will most improve the health and well-being of people with HIV.

Cross-Cutting Areas: Several key areas cut across and are included in OAR’s other four overarching priorities and provide fundamental knowledge needed to advance HIV research. These areas include the basic sciences; epidemiology; behavioral and social sciences; health disparities; training, infrastructure, and capacity building; implementation science; and information dissemination.

The priorities reflect the pipeline of scientific research—from basic discovery through translational, clinical, and implementation science research. This year’s Plan outlines opportunities to encourage new and ongoing investments and research partnerships to develop new strategies, improve existing efforts, and accelerate discovery. It is OAR’s goal that the strategies described in the Plan lead to innovative research efforts and a pipeline for discovery that will move us closer to ending the pandemic—helping us better meet the needs of people with, at risk for, and affected by HIV.

As part of the strong and sustained U.S. commitment to HIV research, the NIH leads global efforts to build on recent accomplishments, advance science, and conquer the HIV/AIDS pandemic. New avenues for discovery provide exciting possibilities for novel strategies to prevent, treat, manage, and eventually cure HIV.

I am honored to partner with you in the efforts to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic and improve the health of people with HIV.

Read the full Plan here.

Maureen M. Goodenow, Ph.D.
Associate Director for AIDS Research and
Director, Office of AIDS Research
National Institutes of Health

Dedication to Dr. Bonnie Mathieson


The FY 2019/2020 NIH Strategic Plan for HIV and HIV-Related Research is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Bonnie Mathieson at the NIH, Office of AIDS Research. Dr. Mathieson will be fondly remembered for her unwavering dedication and efforts toward finding a vaccine to end HIV/AIDS. Her passing is a great loss not only for the NIH, but also for the entire HIV/AIDS community.

This page last reviewed on January 6, 2023