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Reducing the Impact of Infectious Diseases by Supporting Trans-Disciplinary Academic Research

Inequity in Infectious Diseases

Structural racism impacts global health in myriad ways: it influences vulnerability to infectious disease, the availability of treatment, and the variability of outcomes, with the current COVID-19 pandemic being just the most recent example.


  • Charlotte Patterson, Professor of Psychology & Chair of Women, Gender & Sexuality
  • Emma Potter, Lecturer of Women, Gender & Sexuality
  • Karen Waters-Wick, Community Education Coordinator, Albemarle County Schools
  • Jenny Mead, Darden School of Business and Secretary of Charlottesville Pride
  • James Schlitt, Research Associate, Biocomplexity Initiative
  • This project was awarded Undergraduate Research Award Supplement to sponsor undergrad students in the summer of 2021

In the face of COVID-19, what are the supports for and barriers to the use of risk reduction strategies for individuals who belong to racial and sexual minority groups?  Using a mixed method approach, this project will investigate factors that support or inhibit use of risk reduction strategies such as social distancing, mask adherence, and participation in contact tracing and vaccination (when available) among Black and LGBTQ adults. Our aim is to provide evidence based information about the use of risk reduction behaviors that will assist efforts to reduce health inequities and improve health among members of minority populations.


Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Haifeng Xu, Assistant Professor, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Computer Science
  • Deborah Hellman, Professor, School of Law
  • Achla Marathe, Professor of Network Systems Science and Advanced Computing
  • Anil Vullikanti, Professor, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Network Systems Science

Inequities in health and economic outcomes have been widely observed during COVID-19 pandemic. This proposal seeks to understand, characterize and intervene these inequities through game-theoretic agent modeling. This project is a unique collaboration among a very multi-disciplinary team with expertise in computer science (AI, machine learning, social networks, and optimization), computational epidemiology, health economics, law and philosophy.

  • Kathleen McManus, Assistant Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases
  • Elizabeth Rogawski McQuade, Assistant Professor, Division of Public Health Sciences
  • Amy Killelea, National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors
  • Tim Horn, National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors

This proposal supports an academic-non-profit partnership between UVA and NASTAD that will allow a public health focused multi-decade survey about state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs), a key part of the United States’ HIV care safety net, to be used for research for the first time. One aim is to investigate the health policy and structural racism that could be responsible for viral suppression disparities across states. The second aim is to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the state ADAPs.