Landscape of HIV Implementation Research Funded by the National Institutes of Health: A Mapping Review of Project Abstracts

Justin D. Smith*, Dennis H. Li, Lisa R. Hirschhorn, Carlos Gallo, Moira McNulty, Gregory Phillips, Michelle Birkett, Miriam Rafferty, Amrita Rao, Juan A. Villamar, Stefan Baral, Brian Mustanski, C. Hendricks Brown, Nanette D. Benbow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


In 2019, the requisite biomedical and behavioral interventions to eliminate new HIV infections exist. “Ending the HIV Epidemic” now becomes primarily a challenge of will and implementation. This review maps the extent to which implementation research (IR) has been integrated into HIV research by reviewing the recent funding portfolio of the NIH. We searched NIH RePORTER for HIV and IR-related research projects funded from January 2013 to March 2018. The 4629 unique studies identified were screened using machine learning and manual methods. 216 abstracts met the eligibility criteria of HIV and IR. Key study characteristics were then abstracted. NIH currently funds HIV studies that are either formally IR (n = 109) or preparatory for IR (n = 107). Few (13%) projects mentioned a guiding implementation model, theory, or framework, and only 56% of all studies explicitly mentioned measuring an implementation outcome. Considering the study aims along an IR continuum, 18 (8%) studies examined barriers and facilitators, 43 (20%) developed implementation strategies, 46 (21%) piloted strategies, 73 (34%) tested a single strategy, and 35 (16%) compared strategies. A higher proportion of formal IR projects involved established interventions (e.g., integrated services) compared to newer interventions (e.g., pre-exposure prophylaxis). Prioritizing HIV-related IR in NIH and other federal funding opportunity announcements and expanded training in implementation science could have a substantial impact on ending the HIV pandemic. This review serves as a baseline by which to compare funding patterns and the sophistication of IR in HIV research over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1903-1911
Number of pages9
JournalAIDS and behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Implementation research
  • Mapping review
  • Research funding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Social Psychology


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