Fast-Tracking Implementation Science

How can we maximize the effectiveness of HIV prevention, care, and treatment services in urban settings?

To answer this question, the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC) is launching a first-of-its-kind Fast-Track Cities Implementation Science Fund to support academic and community researchers in gaining new insights to improve the practical delivery of HIV services. The emerging field of implementation science explores questions around improving public health, by promoting the adoption of effective interventions, policies, and strategies in a variety of real-world settings.

The rational allocation of limited resources is a critical question for public health professionals who are working to optimize primary prevention across the global Fast-Track Cities network and support the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets for HIV testing and treatment. The first round of study grants will be supported by a combined $750,000 investment by ViiV Healthcare and Gilead Sciences, which will be managed by IAPAC in coordination with an international Expert Advisory Committee.

IAPAC has extended the submission deadline for Letters of Intent (LOI) to July 31, 2020. The only mechanism to submit an LOI is via email to


The rational allocation of scarce human and financial resources to support the attainment of the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets and optimizing primary prevention in Fast-Track Cities requires a new set of scientific questions, the answers to which should guide clinical, public health, and financial decision-making in cities and municipalities in the Fast-Track Cities network. Chief among these questions is how to identify optimally effective interventions, policies, and strategies in diverse real-world settings to facilitate optimized HIV care and prevention continua. The scientific field in which these types of questions are best asked and answered is implementation science, which aims to investigate barriers to the effective implementation of evidence-based interventions for public health impact and to test new approaches to implementing these interventions.

IAPAC defines “implementation science” based on a systematic review commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO):

“Implementation science is a multidisciplinary specialty that seeks generalizable knowledge about the behavior of stakeholders, organizations, communities, and individuals to understand the scale of, reasons for, and strategies to close the gap between evidence and routine practice for health in real-world contexts.”

Through grant support from ViiV Healthcare and Gilead Sciences, IAPAC has created and will manage a Fast-Track Cities Implementation Science Fund that will award up to 10 research grants in 2020 to academic and community researchers in Fast-Track Cities. Successful applicants will carry out implementation science studies of a one year duration in their respective cities with mentorship from global experts in implementation science.

Study outcomes will be disseminated to Fast-Track Cities in which the studies are conducted, in-country stakeholders, the full Fast-Track Cities network, and through peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.


This LOI request serves to invite interested academic and community researchers to evaluate urban HIV interventions, policies, and programs using an implementation science framework to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of HIV care and/or prevention continua, without which Fast-Track Cities cannot attain and exceed the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets on a trajectory towards getting to zero new HIV infections and zero AIDS-related deaths. Proposed studies should identify and address implementation gaps in existing, evidence based interventions/policies/programs across the HIV care and/or prevention continua. Implementation gaps for consideration include:

  • Finding and testing people who are living with HIV and unaware of their status
  • Optimizing linkage to HIV prevention, care, and support services
  • Promoting prompt initiation of and adherence to antiretroviral therapy
  • Enhancing retention and long-term engagement in HIV care
  • Maintaining sustained viral suppression for U=U
  • Switching to second- and third-line antiretroviral regimens
  • Improving health-related quality of life and quality of care
  • Sustaining HIV services during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Addressing disparities in access to HIV prevention and care services
  • Optimizing care for unique populations (children, adolescents, and aging PLHIV)
  • Managing intersecting stigmas to promote HIV and health service utilization
  • Accelerating uptake of new/emerging policies/diagnostics/medicines
  • Optimizing multisectoral implementation strategies for HIV prevention
  • Facilitating demand generation for HIV services among key populations
  • Implementing integrated approaches to address HIV-associated co-morbidities
  • Small-scale testing of innovative HIV-specific and -related health solutions

Research projects may incorporate a systematic review or gap/asset analysis to inform implementation priorities, however projects that are purely systematic reviews or gap/asset analysis will not be funded.

Implementation of proposed studies should be approximately one year in duration. Additional time may be allowed for proposal development and/or ethics committee or institutional review board (IRB) approval, as needed, and contingent upon approval from the Expert Advisory Committee.

Research grant funds of up to $50,000 will be awarded, with a capped indirect rate of 10% to maximize the amount of research grant funding devoted to the implementation studies’ objectives. Study budgets should reflect the actual requirements to conduct the proposed studies. Up to 10 proposals will be awarded. At least 90% of awarded funds must be spent in the country where the research is taking place.


Primary grant applications may be academic (i.e. social scientist, biobehavioral researcher, clinician, etc.) or community researchers (community based organization, non-governmental organizations, and faith based organizations) from a current Fast-Track City (for a complete list, please visit: or a prospective Fast-Track City (if the city has initiated the process of joining the FTC network). Government entities, multilateral organizations, and bilateral organizations are not eligible to apply as prime recipients but may be listed as sub-recipients. No more than three sub-recipients may be listed on the application.


The LOI should be on official letterhead, 3-5 pages in length, written in English, single-spaced, with a minimum font size of 11, Times New Roman font. The LOI must include the following sections:

  • Introduction and Background
  • Objective and Relevance
  • Implementation Framework and Methodology
  • Data Evaluation and Analysis Plan
  • Intended Outcomes
  • Proposed Timelines

Please additionally submit the Conflict of Interest Form and LOI Supplemental Information, which includes:

  • Applicant Information
  • Illustrative Budget
  • Key Personnel Statement


An LOI development webinar was held on June 19, 2020, to address questions and provide additional clarification prior to LOI submission. Please note the eligibility criteria have been expanded since the webinar to include all community and academic researchers.

  • Webinar Presentation [download]
  • Frequently Asked Questions – LOI Webinar [download]

For information about applying for a Fast-Track Cities Implementation Science Fund Grant, please contact Sindhu Ravishankar, MPhil, IAPAC’s Senior Director, Strategic Information, at

For information about implementation science in the context of HIV research, please contact Dr. Stefan Baral, MD, MPH, a member of the Fast-Track Cities Implementation Science Fund’s Expert Advisory Committee, at

For information about community-based implementation science research, please contact David Michels, a member of the Fast-Track Cities Implementation Science Fund’s Expert Advisory Committee, at


  • Supplemental Information [download]
  • Conflict of Interest Form [download]
  • Letter of Intent – Scoring Rubric [download]
  • Additional Resources and Guidance [download]