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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Site Institution: Centre of Excellence in Research in AIDS, University of Malaya
U.S. Institution: Yale University
Research Areas: Addiction; HIV; Tuberculosis; Viral Hepatitis, Prevention and Treatment; HIV testing and PrEP studies in MSM and TGW; mHealth Apps; Criminal Justice

Site Description:
The University of Malaya (UM) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is known for its quality teaching and research. The Centre of Excellence in Research in AIDS (CERiA), located at UM, conducts epidemiological, clinical, and social science research on HIV and other infectious diseases, with a focus on marginalized communities - particularly people who inject drugs, people who experience incarceration, men who have sex with men, transgender women and others. Since the establishment of CERiA in 2007, the centre has conducted several epidemiological and prevention and treatment research projects involving HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected people who use drugs in various settings including the community, syringe services programs, compulsory drug detention centers and prisons.

Drs. Altice and Kamarulzaman have collaborated together continuously since 2005 and have hosted numerous pre- and post-doctoral fellows at this site. They were involved in rolling out the first methadone maintenance treatment in the country as HIV prevention and were the first to do criminal justice/prison research to examine alternatives to health and rehabilitation by comparing community models of care to compulsory drug detention centers. They have conducted trials of both behavioral interventions and medication-assisted therapies for criminal justice populations transitioning from prison to the community as well as studies of tuberculosis (TB) in community and criminal justice settings.

Ongoing research studies include:
  • Malaysian Implementation Science Training (MIST) Program in HIV
  • Developing an artificial intelligence-based mHealth intervention to increase HIV testing in Malaysia
  • Strengthening the HIV care continuum for transgender women living with HIV in Malaysia
  • Newer studies are examining risk among female sex workers and transgender women.
Research areas and opportunities include:
  • HIV risk, tuberculosis, primary and secondary HIV prevention and intervention research within the criminal justice system and in collaboration with NGOs that provide health care services to transgender women and female sex workers.
  • Issues related to urban health, HIV, tuberculosis, health services research and addiction medicine.
  • Trials of behavioral interventions and medication-assisted therapies for criminal justice populations transitioning from prison to the community as well as studies of TB in community and criminal justice settings.
  • Research at the interface of HIV, TB, and addiction
  • RCTs of preventive therapies
  • Mathematical modeling, cost-effectiveness analysis

Other features of the site include:
  • Ongoing relationships with different departments and schools within the university, relationships with Malaysian government including the Prisons Department, Ministry of Health, Anti-Drug Agency and Pink Triangle Foundation.
  • Ongoing relationship with the Malaysian AIDS Council, the country’s largest AIDS Service NGO that oversee the provision of HIV prevention and treatment.
  • In 2013, CERiA co-hosted the 7th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention –the largest open scientific conference on HIV that was attended by more than 5000 scientists, researchers and clinicians.
  • CERiA’s research spans over 20 different disciplines and is divided into six research categories (basic science/clinical/translational research, social and behavioral research, intervention research, and policy research/modeling-based research).