The Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) was initiated with a request for proposals from National Institute on Allergies and Infectious Diseases to study AIDS among men who have sex with men. Five grants were awarded, four of which joined to form the MACS. These were Johns Hopkins University (P.I Frank Polk), Pittsburgh (P.I. Charles Rinaldo), Northwestern University (P.I. John Phair) and UCLA (P.I. Roger Detels). Two years later, the investigators, recognising the need for a data management center, convinced the NIH to fund the Johns Hopkins center, CAMACS (P.I. Alvaro Munoz). The MACS recruited 5000 men at the four centers from 1984 to 1985. The decision was made to examine the men every 6 months with an extensive interview, physical examination and collection of specimens (blood, saliva, semen) and to establish both a central repository and a local repository at each of the sites including serum, plasma, and cells). In 1989 and 2001 the MACS was expended to include primarily minority-Americans, the most involved group. The original group of investigators has been expanded to include several hundred investigators from elsewhere in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Any investigator submitting a request for data and/or specimens has access to the MACS data base and national repository upon approval of a concept by the MACS Executive Committee. The MACS has over 90 000 person years of follow-up and a repository of over 1 400 000 specimens, facilitating a wide range of virologic, immunologic, genetic, neurologic, treatment and psychosocial studies. To date the MACS has published almost 1300 papers in refereed scientific journals and has contributed significantly to our understanding of this tragic disease.
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