Penn Center for AIDS Research

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Welcome to the Penn Center for AIDS Research

The Penn Center for AIDS Research (Penn CFAR) is one of 18 NIH-funded CFARs and includes HIV and AIDS investigators at the University of Pennsylvania, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and the Wistar Institute.

Our mission is to support and advance research in all areas of HIV/AIDS on the Penn/CHOP/Wistar campus through campus, regional and national leadership; catalyzing collaborative research through working groups, outreach and strategic planning; education through seminars, courses and workshops; developing new HIV/AIDS investigators and research programs through pilot funding, mentorship, and partnership programs; and research support through innovative shared resource Cores that offer unique services, materials, technical education and assistance, and collaborative support.  

Penn CFAR Cores include the Clinical Core, Virus & Reservoirs Core, Immunology Core, Biostatistics & Data Science Core; Prevention Science & Community Outreach Core; International Core; and Nonhuman Primate Core.

You can make a donation to the Penn CFAR via the button below!


Vincent Wu is announced a CAMB winner of the 2023 Saul Winegrad Award for Outstanding Dissertation

Vincent's thesis work in the lab of Dr. Michael Betts was focused on increasing the understanding of the HIV reservoir found in people living with HIV. From mapping the integration site landscape in various contexts to using a single-cell approach to study the reservoir at basal state, Vincent's work has generated a high-resolution atlas that explores and describes the complex phenotypic heterogeneity of infected cells within the reservoir. These datasets and accompanying analyses are part of a concerted effort to better understand the HIV reservoir in order to design and evaluate a targeted therapeutic cure.

Reference links below:

Wu VH, et al. Profound phenotypic and epigenetic heterogeneity of the HIV-1-infected CD4+ T cell reservoir. Nat Immunol. 2023 Feb;24(2):359-370.

Wu VH, et al. Assessment of HIV-1 integration in tissues and subsets across infection stages. JCI Insight. 2020 Oct 15;5(20):e139783.

International AIDS Society statement on International Transgender Day of Visibility

31 March 2023 (Geneva, Switzerland) – On this International Transgender Day of Visibility, we at IAS – the International AIDS Society – recommit ourselves to a people-first approach that actively opposes any barriers to gender-affirming care.  

Gender-affirmative healthcare supports and affirms an individual’s gender identity and/or gender expression, including any range of social, psychological, behavioural or medical interventions. Trans people, including gender-diverse and gender-expansive people, experience their gender as incongruent to that presumed at birth.  

Medical interventions, such as the provision of hormone therapy and surgical procedures, improve the quality of life and well-being of trans people. We know that trans women who receive gender-affirming care have better HIV outcomes than those who do not. Also, integrating gender-affirming care with HIV treatment and prevention increases access and engagement in care for trans people living with and vulnerable to acquiring HIV.  

But most trans people still face stigma, discrimination, social exclusion and health and healthcare inequities. For example, almost three-quarters of trans people in an Australian study experienced gender insensitivity in sexual healthcare encounters, which was associated with lower likelihood of HIV and STI testing. There are insufficient data from low- and middle-income countries, but it is known that high levels of stigma and gender-based discrimination in healthcare facilities reduce access of trans people to medical visits and HIV testing services.  

Laws restricting access to gender-affirming care increase the vulnerability of trans people, including adolescents, to poor mental health and suicide and can increase vulnerability to acquiring HIV. Attacks on providers and restrictions on gender-affirming care will have an extremely detrimental impact on HIV prevention and treatment continuum of care outcomes and other healthcare services.  

Legal gender recognition is a fundamental human right that is critical for equal participation in society. Ensuring that people have documentation that accurately recognizes their gender is the only path forward for trans health equity from a health and human rights perspective. It overcomes barriers to accessing health and social services, travel, immigration, education and employment opportunities, and civic participation. It also respects privacy, safety and well-being. 

All trans people, including children and adolescents, should be able to affirm their gender legally through a simple administrative process that allows them to choose their gender marker, including non-binary options.  

Today, more countries allow for legal gender recognition, but many still deny this right or require surgical sterilization to access it.  

The IAS calls on countries to put people first and implement evidence-based policies, programming and resourcing for trans community-led initiatives. Priorities include improving access to gender-affirming healthcare and legally recognizing gender in documentation. We must respect, protect and elevate the trans experience, globally. 

The IAS wishes to thank the following contributors for their expertise and time they committed to this statement: Asa Radix, Ayden Scheim, Beatriz Grinsztejn, Nadia Dowshen, Noah Adams, Renata Sanders, Sari Reisner, Teddy Cook 

Please click here for the International AIDS Society's full statement

CFAR iSPHERE SWG announces two new opportunities

The CFAR-iSPHERE SWG would like to offer two new opportunities to scholars interested in doing work at the intersection of HIV and implementation science. The goal of these opportunities is to increase accessibility for HIV researchers to do work in the implementation science space and vice versa.

We will be offering scholarships to provide financial support for the following:

  • Open access publication fees for applicants whose manuscripts represent first-time HIV and implementation science work. 
    • For more information on what constitutes an implementation science manuscript, see Figure 1 of this manuscript, which distinguishes implementation science from efficacy research and effectiveness research. 
  • Conference registration fees for applicants to attend their first HIV or implementation science conferences. An abstract acceptance is NOT required.
    • Examples of implementation science conferences:
      • Annual Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation in Health Conference (D&I)
      • Society for Implementation Research Collaboration (SIRC)
    • Examples of HIV conferences:
      • Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI)
      • International AIDS Conference
      • National HIV Prevention Conference
      • STD Prevention Conference
      • United States Conference on AIDS
      • Adherence Conference 
    • Websites to explore more conference opportunities:

Creating opportunities for investigators to explore areas outside of their established expertise is key to our mission of building capacity and developing HIV implementation researchers. For that reason, priority will be given to early-career investigators and those with limited or no funding for their work. Applications will be fielded on a rolling basis in 2022. 

Please click here to fill out a brief survey detailing your request, and we will follow up with you by email. If you have any questions, please contact

Kathleen Brady on the decline in HIV testing in Philadelphia 

Kathleen Brady, MD, Acting Director of the AIDS Activities Coordinating Office of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and CFAR Administrative Core Investigator, was interviewed recently by the Philadelphia Inquirer on the apparent decline in newly reported cases of HIV cases in Philadelphia - a direct result of a pandemic-related decline in testing.

From 2020 testing data alone, Brady said, “it looks as though our HIV outbreak in people who inject drugs is going away. But the reality is, if you don’t test people for HIV, you can’t diagnose them. That’s really what we’re seeing here. We don’t have a great understanding of what’s happening in the outbreak right now.” Read the full article here.

Dr. Brady was also interviewed by WHYY on the disturbing decline in newly reported cases of HIV in the city.

We know that the majority of new HIV infections are acquired from people who have HIV but are unaware of their HIV status,” said Dr. Kathleen Brady, acting director of the city’s Department of Public Health. “Our concern is that that proportion, and the size of that population, is now increasing, which certainly is concerning for ongoing HIV transmission and an increase in new HIV infections over time.  Read the full article here.

CFAR National Meeting Recordings Now Available!


From November 1-5, 2021 the Penn CFAR hosted the annual CFAR National Meeting, including keynote presentations by Dr. Tony Fauci and Dr. Rochelle Walensky. This was also an exciting opportunity to showcase the cutting-edge research happening here at Penn, CHOP, and Wistar and from our colleagues across the country, as well as the phenomenal work happening in our communities, both locally and nationally. Click here to watch the recorded sessions of the Community Symposium, Scientific Symposium, and the Early Stage Investigator Mentoring Workshop!

CFAR CAB Statement on COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter

The CFAR Community Advisory Board released a statement, in solidarity with the Penn CFAR Administrative Core, reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement and offering support and direction to the people of Philadelphia.

See the full June 29th, 2020 statement here.

CFAR Statement on HIV/AIDS and Social and Health Disparaties

In the wake of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, and the resulting civil rights movement lead by Black Lives Matter, The Penn Center for AIDS Research released a statement reflecting on the parallels between COVID-19 and the HIV/AIDS crisis and the devastating toll these crises, in combination with systemic racism, have taken on marginalized communities.

See the full June 4th, 2020 statement here.


The Delaney Collaboratory to Cure HIV-1 Infection by Combination Immunotherapy (BEAT-HIV Collaboratory) is a consortium of more than 60 top HIV researchers from leading academic research institutions working with government, nonprofit organizations, and industry partners to test combinations of several novel immunotherapies under new preclinical research and clinical trials.