Robert Hogg focuses on identifying ongoing health inequities among vulnerable HIV-positive populations to better meet their unique health care needs.
Since the early 1990s, SFU professor of health sciences Dr. Robert Hogg has been conducting demographic research on British Columbia's HIV-positive population. With an eye towards influencing health policy decisions and improving health outcomes, his work has earned him an international reputation as a leading population health researcher.
More recently, Hogg’s focus has turned to analyzing health trends among marginalized HIV-positive groups. For instance, Hogg was senior author on a first-of-its-kind study which found that food insecurity increases the risk of death among injection drug users living with HIV/AIDS. He also investigates how access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) influences sexual practice and infection rates among men who have sex with men, and examines how the treatment affects HIV-positive individuals who suffer from age-related diseases such as cancer. The latter is significant as more than half of all HIV-positive individuals in North America are over the age of 50. The findings will help create new strategies to meet the unique needs of these populations.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research has recognized the importance of Hogg’s work by awarding him with multi-million dollar grants. This includes $2.7 million awarded in 2014 towards the Canadian HIV Observational Cohort (CANOC), the country’s only longitudinal study of more than 10,000 people undergoing antiretroviral therapy in Canada. It also helped him establish the CANOC Collaborative Research Centre which will allow a large team of researchers to continue tracking Canada’s HIV-positive population and further contribute to the understanding of challenges presented by HIV.
B.C. has been the only Canadian province to show an overall, consistent decline in new HIV diagnoses over the past several years. Sadly, Dr. Hogg is cognizant that the province’s marginalized communities remain an exception when it comes to experiencing this phenomenon. He and his colleagues have pledged to focus their research efforts on these communities.
For his exceptional work on the HIV/ AIDS epidemic, Dr. Hogg received a lifetime achievement award from the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of B.C. in 2013, and was recently inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. He hopes to continue changing the way HIV positive persons and the disease are perceived. Says Hogg, “I am fully engaged in making a difference. By working with the province and with partners around the world, our goal is not only to improve the lives of those with HIV, but to end the AIDS epidemic altogether.”
“Robert Hogg’s New CIHR HIV Research Centre to Expand National Cohort Study.” SFU. SFU. 13 Oct. 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.
“Robert Hogg receives career achievement award.” SFU. SFU. 3 April, 2013. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.
Dr. Robert Hogg has established a national and international reputation in population health research with emphasis on HIV/AIDS, antiretroviral therapy, and marginalized populations. He directs the Drug Treatment Program at the BC-Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and is the principal investigator of a number of important HIV-related studies, including the Canadian HIV Observational Cohort. This collaboration of national researchers and select databases establishes policy-relevant studies in HIV therapeutics, population, and public health. Hogg is a senior research scientist in the Epidemiology and Population Health program at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and heads the Canadian HIV Observational Cohort (CANOC) Collaborative Research Centre.
Q & A with Robert Hogg
What motivates you as a researcher?
My work, like others in this field, is geared towards improving the lives of those living with HIV. When I started there were a lot of setbacks, but now, working together, we can actually see an end to AIDS.
If you could sum up the value of university research in a word, what would it be?
Foundation. Without research there is no university.
SFU bills itself as “Canada’s most engaged research university.” How does your own work exemplify this spirit of engagement?
I am engaged to make a difference, to work with others to improve the lives of those living with HIV. As they say, there is no “I” in “Team” and SFU has taught me that it will take a cohort of men and women working to together to stop AIDS. In British Columbia we are privileged to have the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and SFU collaborating so closely to end this epidemic.
What advice would you give to your younger self on the challenges you faced as a researcher?
Write more grants and never underestimate the hurdles and the impact your research can make.
Putting one’s research out into the world often requires a leap of courage. Where do you derive your courage?
Most times I just leap, but when I need courage I get it from my partner.
What do you see as the most noteworthy emerging trend in the HIV/AIDS epidemic over the next 50 years?
The suppression of AIDS by 2020 through the implementation of UNAIDS’ 90–90–90 campaign: 90 per cent of all people living with HIV should know their status, 90 per cent of all those who are diagnosed HIV positive get on sustained antiretroviral treatment, and 90 per cent of those on sustained antiretroviral therapy having an undetectable HIV viral load in their system.
SFU has much to celebrate on its 50th anniversary. Looking ahead to our 100th anniversary in 2065, what do you think SFU will be most notable for?
SFU should continue to set its self apart, to engage others, and to make a difference. What saddens me is how few people outside of Canada don’t know about SFU and its mission. In 2065, when people outside of this country think of higher learning in Canada, they should think of SFU.