HIV Communication & Policy Scientific Working Group (SWG)

Dolores Albarracin, PhD

Director, HIV Communication & Policy SWG

John Holmes, PhD, FACE, FACMI

Co-Director, HIV Communication & Policy SWG

Bita Fayaz-Farkhad, PhD

Co-Director, HIV Communication & Policy SWG

The HIV Communication and Policy SWG will develop a new research community and galvanize rigorous policy and communication research, leveraged through engagement with government- and community-based constituencies, to support the EHE agenda.

The impact of health-related communication and policy on health-related behaviors can be complex and unpredictable, a lesson that was starkly illustrated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The national End the HIV Epidemic (EHE) mission needs methods to generate evidence-based recommendations for communication and policies while remaining sensitive to the epidemiology within diverse regions. However, such approaches are underutilized as mainstream tools to aid public health decisions, owing to barriers including (a) insufficient awareness about the role of communications and health policies; (b) silos in scientific training in communication research and policy analysis; (c) absence of a didactic methodological toolkit to enable scientists to incorporate communication and policy analyses in their research, and; (d) a lack of data analysis support and centralization of code. To address this gap and catalyze research to understand and leverage communication and policy impact on EHE goals within the Penn CFAR campus, the new HIV Communication and Policy SWG will be led by Drs. Dolores Albarracín, a leader in studies of communication and behavioral change, particularly HIV-related issues; John Holmes, a biomedical informatician who develops novel analytic methods informed by statistics and artificial intelligence to address interactions between people and environments in space and time, and; Bita Fayaz-Farkhad, a communication investigator whose background as an engineer and health economist informs hypothesis-driven research to design and evaluate interventions to improve health among populations at high risk of HIV. 

Our primary goals are:

  • Advancing research on the intersection of HIV communication, HIV policy, and the intersection of HIV communication and policy to promote the EHE goals
  • Raising awareness about HIV communication and policy impacts
  • Developing processes and toolkits to increase capacity to advance communication and policy research


  • Establishing new collaborations
  • Strengthening prior collaborations
  • Organizing seminars and workshops
  • Catalyzing new grants
  • Communicating findings to stakeholders in accessible and impactful ways

 If you’re interested in becoming a member of the SWG, please send your CV to