Despite now having the appropriate tools to prevent the spread of HIV, we—the HIV research and practice community—face many barriers in getting the right tools to the right people in the right ways at the right time. Implementation science (IS) is critical for bridging the research–practice gap and obtaining generalizable knowledge about how to deliver evidence-based interventions to populations through health care and public health systems.
The Implementation Science Coordination, Consultation, and Collaboration Initiative (ISC3I) is a coordinating and technical support center for 65 planning projects funded under the national Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative. The goals of ISC3I are to:
- Support high-quality IS in funded EHE projects by providing technical assistance from experts on IS designs, frameworks, strategies, measures, and outcomes.
- Create opportunities to develop generalizable knowledge from local knowledge by encouraging the use of shared frameworks and harmonized measures, synthesizing data across projects, and encouraging cross-project collaboration.
Built to serve Centers for AIDS Research (CFARs) and AIDS Research Centers (ARCs) across the US, ISC3I is a product of the Inter-CFAR Implementation Science Working Group (ISWG; see below) and is led by ISWG co-chairs Brian Mustanski and Nanette Benbow. ISC3I is funded by an administrative supplement to the NIH-funded Third Coast CFAR (P30 AI117943), with additional support from the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing and the Center for Prevention Implementation Methodology for Drug Abuse and HIV at Northwestern University.
Growing out of the success of a previous working group, investigators from the Third Coast and Johns Hopkins CFARs, in partnership with CFARs and ARCs across the country, established the Inter-CFAR ISWG in early 2018. The overarching goal of the ISWG is to achieve a future without HIV by improving the quality and quantity of IS methods being used in HIV research. The Executive Committee comprises 6 members:
- Stefan Baral, Johns Hopkins CFAR
- Nanette Benbow, Third Coast CFAR
- Brian Mustanski, Third Coast CFAR
- Elvin Geng, UC San Francisco-Gladstone CFAR
- Kenneth Sherr, University of Washington/Fred Hutchinson CFAR
- J.D. Smith, Third Coast CFAR
Supported by a meeting supplement from NIAID, the ISWG formed a steering committee that included representatives from 9 CFARs, multiple federal agencies (CDC, USAID, and five NIH Institutes and Centers) as well as one foundation: AmFar. The committee interviewed and surveyed CFAR and ARC leaders on their IS capacities and services, which culminated in a 2-day workshop, “Catalyzing HIV Implementation Science through Methodological Innovation and Multi-Sector Partnerships,” held in April 2018 in Chicago, IL.
ISC3I is a direct successor to this workshop, created as part of EHE to provide continued guidance and support to HIV researchers and their implementation partners both new to and experienced in IS.