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The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit in Blood Borne and Sexually Transmitted Infections is led by University College London in partnership with Public Health England. The unit aims to conduct state-of-the-art research to improve the health of the population, and to help develop practical policy guidelines for those working in health protection.
Since 2014, the NIHR HPRU has received over £8.4 million to undertake collaborative research that addresses the key health protection priorities for the prevention and control of STIs and BBVs, notably understanding risk and risk reduction, reducing the burden of under-diagnosis, and improving care and management of those diagnosed with infections.
Examples of ongoing work include studies to assess the extent to which undisclosed and/or stigmatised risk behaviours facilitate outbreaks or sustain epidemics of sexually transmitted infections and/or blood-borne viruses, studies which aim to increase our understanding of sexual healthcare pathways for several under-served population groups (for example, gay and sexual minority groups) and to characterise blood-borne virus infections in these groups, and studies that will allow us to harness existing national datasets to support elimination strategies for blood borne viruses.
A diverse team of researchers from clinical medicine, epidemiology, medical statistics, qualitative science, social science, health economics, mathematical modelling and laboratory science have been brought together to create an innovative culture of working across different disease areas, populations, and institutions.
Professor Caroline Sabin, Director of the HPRU at UCL comments: "This funding allows us to conduct world class health protection research which will directly address the barriers to prevention and control of STIs and BBVs across England. We hope to develop a deeper understanding of the issues, resulting in research that we believe is likely to have a more meaningful impact on the health of the nation."
The NIHR HPRU in Blood Borne and Sexually Transmitted Infections formally came into practice in April 2014 and is currently funded until 31st March 2025.