BYLINE: Myra Wright

Newswise — WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – March 27, 2024 – Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Advocate Health and Vysnova Partners have been awarded a $3.4 million, four-year contract to study HIV, Mpox and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This surveillance project is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and part of the CDC’s Sexually Transmitted Infections Impact Research Consortium.

The goal of this research is to collect data on STIs across five regions of the U.S. encompassing Advocate Health’s footprint, from Georgia and North Carolina to Illinois and Wisconsin.

Researchers will enroll a total of 7,500 participants across all of the sites. People who are at high risk of infection will be offered the opportunity to enroll and participate in a survey. Enrollment is expected to begin in September 2024.

With Wake Forest University School of Medicine as the academic core of Advocate Health – the third-largest nonprofit health system in the nation – the scale of the health system, combined with the specific expertise of the medical school, enables researchers to reach a very large and socioeconomically diverse population across a wide geographic footprint.

“We are seeing alarming rates of STIs across our country and we still do not have a very good understanding of the networks in which these infections spread,” said Dr. Candice McNeil, principal investigator of the project and associate professor of infectious diseases at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. “The data gained from this survey will help public health officials identify vulnerable populations and individuals who are at high risk and will help us learn more about attitudes and acceptance of vaccines, which will help inform the design of future interventions to reduce the burden of infection across communities.”

The study will be conducted in five regions of the U.S. where Advocate Health has nearby hospitals: Atlanta (Atrium Health Floyd, in Rome, Georgia, and Atrium Health Navicent, in Macon, Georgia); Charlotte, North Carolina (Atrium Health); Chicago (Advocate Health Care); Milwaukee and Green Bay, Wisconsin (Aurora Health Care); and the Winston-Salem and Greensboro region of North Carolina (Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist).

The Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Advocate Health research team includes investigators, biostatisticians and a project manager from emergency medicine, infectious diseases, population health, public health sciences, and urgent care.

This is not the first time Wake Forest University School of Medicine has collaborated with Vysnova Partners and the CDC. In 2020, the organizations partnered with other institutions on a project that measured the spread of COVID-19 across the country.