DOM Blog: Infectious Diseases Investigators at Forefront of HIV/AIDS Research

With the arrival of Elizabeth Connick, MD, as the chief of the University of Arizona’s Division of Infectious Diseases (ID Division), HIV research at the university has expanded. Dr. Connick is an internationally recognized researcher working toward a cure for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections.

Dr. Connick's research focuses on understanding how HIV evades the immune system and developing strategies to overcome this. Currently, she has NIH R01 funding to investigate the mechanisms underlying HIV’s evasion of cytotoxic T cell responses in lymphoid tissues and is a funded member the Martin Delaney Collaboratory aimed at finding a cure for HIV.

Dr. Connick is also interested in strategies to reduce HIV-related cardiovascular disease. She has another R01 grant funded to investigate the impact of exercise on endothelial dysfunction in HIV-infected individuals. She is also working with Lori Fantry, MD, MPH, and Anca Georgescu, MD, on the NIH-sponsored Randomized Trial to Prevent Vascular Events in HIV (REPRIEVE), which is evaluating the use of a statin drug therapy in HIV-infected individuals whom, without HIV infection, would not be prescribed drug therapy for heart attack and stroke prevention. This study is critical  because, despite being able to control HIV and prevent infections, HIV-infected patients have higher risk for heart attacks and strokes compared to the general population.


For an extensive list of studies involving faculty within the UA Division of Infectious Diseases, visit the division’s Research homepage:

Researcher Spotlight articles highlighting collaborative opportunities with specific researchers in the UA Department of Medicine, including several from this division, can be found at this link. You can also see specific Research Projects listed here.

Other HIV-related research currently being conducted by members of the ID Division include the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Knowledge, Attitudes, and Barriers study led by Dr. Fantry with Alyssa Guido (right), program director, Arizona AIDS Education and Training Center, and Dr. Georgescu in collaboration with Carlos Perez-Velez, MD, deputy chief medical officer of the Pima County Health Department. The purpose of the study is to learn how PrEP can be initiated and maintained in those groups of people with risk factors for HIV who are also of low income and Hispanic ethnicity. These are groups that have a low PrEP uptake in Arizona despite significant risk for HIV. The study investigators also include UA College of Medicine and Masters of Public Health students (Tanwe Shende, Kristi Meshon Sprowl, and Kelchi Catherine Abarikwu). More information on PrEP can be found at the UA Petersen HIV Clinics website.

Additional collaborative HIV research in the ID Division includes work in ccoperation with the UA Department of Immunobiology. Including ID’s Steve Klotz, MD (on left at right), working with Nafees Ahmad, PhD (at right), on a study entitled “Viral, Immunological and Clinical Factors in HIV Aging Patients.” A similar study entitled “Aging Immune Function with Persistent/Chronic Conditions” is another collaborative effort between Janko Nikolich-Žugich, MD, PhD, chair, UA Immunobiology, and co-director, UA Center on Aging, with the ID Division.

For information on any of these studies, please contact Martha L. Barrón at (520) 626-8569 or

World AIDS Day 

World AIDS Day, held annually December 1, offers an opportune time to discuss human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) issues and update you on how the UA Division of Infectious Diseases participates in research and patient care innovation to help limit risks of infection and bring the latest advances in treatment from the lab to bedside for your benefit. See another blog, "HIV medication adherence innovations for patient care," at the UA Petersen HIV Clinics that the division operates at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and South facilities, at this link and read more below.

“UA Collaboration Focuses Attention on Emergency HIV At-Risk Patients to Prevent Infection” | Posted Nov. 28, 2017
"New Websites Launched for UA Division of Infectious Diseases, Petersen HIV Clinics" | Posted Sept. 27, 2017
“UA Infectious Diseases Experts to Collaborate on National Effort to Develop HIV Cure” | Posted July 13, 2016
“New UA Chief of Infectious Diseases Has Long History of Novel Research into HIV, AIDS Prevention” | Posted Jan. 20, 2016

About The Author

Dr. Lori Fantry joined the faculty at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson in July 2016. She was previously the medical director of the largest University of Maryland/Institute of Human Virology HIV clinic which provides HIV and hepatitis C care to over 1,800 patients per year. She also was involved with HIV clinical research and education and continues to be active in these areas as director, HIV Translational Research Program, medical director, Refugee Preventive Health Screening Program, and associate clinical director at the UA Division of Infectious Diseases.