2024 URBAN ARCH Annual Meeting

The 2024 URBAN ARCH Annual Meeting was held on May 3, 2024 in Boston, MA. A total of 71 attendees participated in this year’s meeting, either in-person or remotely via Zoom. The meeting brought together senior investigators, international collaborators, early-stage investigators, study staff, and other affiliates of the International URBAN ARCH Center and 2nd Generation URBAN ARCH HIV/Alcohol P01 Centers.

In-person attendees at the 2024 URBAN ARCH Annual Meeting.

The objectives of this meeting were to:

  1. Discuss emerging issues at the intersection of HIV, TB, and alcohol research
  2. Examine collaboration opportunities across HIV/alcohol P01 Centers
  3. Engage trainees in HIV and alcohol research domestically and internationally
  4. Update the Program Advisory Committee and receive feedback on progress and challenges of the International URBAN ARCH Center
Dr. Kendall Bryant presented remotely via Zoom at this year’s meeting.

We kicked off the meeting with Dr. Kendall Bryant, Director of HIV/AIDS Research at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), who presented on NIAAA alcohol/HIV priorities. Broadly, these priorities are to support: 1) the advancement of HIV science through research, 2) the development of novel HIV interventions, and 3) the translation, dissemination, and implementation of findings.

Dr. Jeffrey Samet, Principal Investigator of the International URBAN ARCH Center, provided an update on the Administrative Core and the Biostatistics and Data Management (BDM) Cores, emphasizing the Training and Mentoring Program, which currently serves 39 trainees from over 22 institutions (7 international). The Cores also highlighted the URBAN ARCH Data and Sample Repository, which is home to data from 25 studies and approximately 65,000 biological samples.

(L-R) Dr. Winnie Muyindike, TRAC site PI, and Dr. Judy Hahn, TRAC Project Lead, presenting on the study.

Dr. Judy Hahn, Project Lead for the TB Risk by Alcohol Consumption (TRAC) study, presented on TRAC study progress and current status. The aims of the TRAC study are 1) to estimate the risk for new TB infection by level of alcohol use, adjusting for key co-factors and 2) determine the rate of TB disease among PWH with positive tuberculin skin test (TST) after receipt of INH, by level of alcohol use in Mbarara, Uganda. The TRAC team completed enrollment for Aim 1 of the study (n=500) in November 2023. For Aim 2 of the study, the team is working to review the charts of 988 DIPT/ADEPTT participants who had a positive TST and received INH, to determine rates of active TB among this population. Dr. Hahn also shared her work as the Principal Investigator of the Biomarkers for Alcohol/HIV Research (BAHR) R01 study, which was featured in a previous issue of this newsletter.

Dr. Karsten Lunze, GRAIL study PI, presenting on the study.

Dr. Kaku So-Armah, Project Lead for the Tuberculosis, Alcohol, and Lung Comorbidities (TALC) study, presented on TALC study progress and current status. The aims of the TALC study are 1) determine the relationship between hazardous drinking and post-TB lung disease (PTLD) in PWH and 2) qualitatively evaluate factors for tailoring pharmaco-behavioral alcohol and smoking interventions in PWH being treated for TB. The TALC team began enrollment for Aim 1 in October 2023 in Mbarara, Uganda. For Aim 2 of the study, the TALC team will interview 24 TALC participants and 12 TB providers on barriers and facilitators to alcohol and smoking interventions during TB treatment. Dr. So-Armah also presented on the current status of the TB, HIV, and Aging 50-over-50 (THAU 50-50) sub-study featured in the last issue of this newsletter. Dr. Karsten Lunze provided an updated on the affiliated GRAIL NIAAA R01 study, which also takes place in Mbarara, Uganda.

Dr. Michael Stein, ARCHER PI, presenting on the ARCHER P01 Center.

Next, we heard from 2nd Generation URBAN ARCH HIV/Alcohol P01 Centers. Dr. Michael Stein, Principal Investigator of the Addressing Related Comorbidities for HIV by Employing Remote Technologies (ARCHER) P01 Center, gave an overview of ARCHER and its progress so far. This P01 Center is made up of a pain trial and a physical activity trial. The pain trial will test the efficacy of an integrated behavioral telehealth intervention for reducing unhealthy drinking and chronic pain among PWH. The physical activity trial will test the efficacy of a 12-week LPA (lifestyle physical activity) and Fitbit intervention among low-active PWH who are engaged in unhealthy drinking. Both trials are progressing as expected, and protocol papers were submitted for both trials.

Dr. Matt Freiberg, META HIV CVD PI, presenting remotely via Zoom on Center progress and activities.

Dr. Matt Freiberg, Principal Investigator of the Microbiome, Metabolites, and Alcohol in HIV to Reduce CVD (META HIV CVD) P01 Center, gave an overview of the Center and its progress. META HIV CVD is composed of two projects – an RCT and a cohort study – as well as the Administrative Core and the Integrated Metagenomics and Metabolomics Core. The RCT, led by Dr. Freiberg, will compare the effects of a tailored probiotic vs. placebo at 6 months on gut dysbiosis. This study is currently enrolling participants. The cohort study, led by Dr. Kaku So-Armah, will assess three microbiome dependent metabolic pathways and determine the association of metabolites from these pathways with alcohol, CVD, and death in PWH and controls. The study team is currently building the analytic dataset and analyzing blood specimens. Dr. Freiberg also highlighted that the Center will host its third annual RSA Alcohol/HIV Satellite meeting on June 22.

Dr. Amanda Miller presenting her abstract remotely via Zoom.

Following these presentations, Dr. Bob Horsburgh, Professor at Boston University School of Public Health/Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine and international TB/HIV expert, gave a keynote presentation on key issues in TB and HIV research. Dr. Horsburgh shared the current state of TB and HIV research, including barriers to interrupting transmission, and ongoing gaps in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of both TB and HIV. He also highlighted research priorities in both areas, including developing vaccines and improved screening tools, diagnostic tests, and treatment regimens. He spoke about the importance of both decreasing stigma and increasing community engagement in order to move forward in all areas.

Dr. Rebecca Hoffman presenting her abstract at the meeting.
Dr. Cristina Espinosa da Silva presenting her abstract.

Four early stage investigators were invited to present their work at the meeting. Each investigator gave a short oral presentation of work related to HIV and/or alcohol use. Dr. Cristina Espinosa da Silva (University of California, San Francisco) presented an abstract entitled “Routinely Collected Lab Tests can be Used to Predict Biomarker-Measured Heavy Alcohol Use Among People with HIV: a Proof-of-Concept Using Machine Learning.” Dr. Katherine Calver (Boston Medical Center) and Christine Ngabirano (Mbarara University of Science and Technology) presented a co-authored abstract, “Assessing the Concordance Between Two Alcohol Biomarkers and Self-Reported Alcohol Consumption Before and After the COVID-19 Lockdown Among Men and Women with HIV and Alcohol Use in Uganda.” Dr. Amanda Miller (San Diego State University) presented an abstract entitled “Hazardous Alcohol Use Predicts Detectable Viremia among Ugandan Women: A Prospective Analysis.” Rebecca Hoffman presented the final abstract, entitled “Stakeholder Perceptions of the Impact of Alcohol and Other Substance Use on Long-Acting Injectable Cabotegravir/Rilpivirine Candidacy and Utility.” Meeting attendees described these presentations as “extremely interesting” and “valuable for everyone.”

Dr. Katherine Calver presenting in-person with Christine Ngabirano presenting remotely via Zoom.

Overall, the 2024 URBAN ARCH Annual Meeting was a success, and we look forward to seeing everyone in 2025!