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URMC / News / $3 Million to Fund Research on Powerful HIV Prevention Pill

$3 Million to Fund Research on Powerful HIV Prevention Pill

PrEP has potential to slow spread of AIDS in the U.S.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

James McMahon, Ph.D.

A University of Rochester School of Nursing researcher has been awarded a $3 million grant to study a promising method of preventing the spread of HIV.

Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, James McMahon, Ph.D., associate professor at the UR School of Nursing, will begin a five-year project studying pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, as a viable prevention option for people who are at high risk of contracting HIV, specifically among heterosexual partners of HIV-positive men and women.

“Before PrEP, the only reliable options people knew about to prevent HIV were condoms or abstinence,” said McMahon, who co-directs the Clinical and Translational Sciences Core of the URMC Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). “This has the potential to be a game-changer in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”

This has the potential to be a game-changer in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The once-a-day medication — known as Truvada — has been shown to be highly effective in preventing HIV transmission. In 2014, the CDC issued national guidelines for providing PrEP, particularly for high-risk populations.

McMahon and his team will examine the clinical provision of PrEP and potential barriers to PrEP care among heterosexual partners of HIV-positive men and women.

The current method of providing HIV services places an emphasis on treating the infected partner. This will be the first study focused on this population looking at PrEP initiation, retention in care, medication adherence, drug concentration levels, effects on risk behavior, and clinical outcomes, such as bone mineral density loss and renal function.

“The successful integration of PrEP into comprehensive prevention programs will require innovative models of care that address couple dynamics and include couples counseling and coordinated care,” says McMahon. “These couples face a unique set of challenges, and little research has been done to gauge how useful PrEP will be in preventing HIV.”

There are an estimated 200,000 HIV-serodiscordant heterosexual couples in the U.S. and the majority of heterosexually acquired HIV infections each year can be attributed to transmission within these couples. Findings from the study will help shape national and state PrEP clinical practice guidelines and inform the development of evidence-based interventions to optimize PrEP provision in this population.

McMahon received support from the NIMH and the University of Rochester Center for AIDS Research last year to conduct a formative study of the complex challenges and opportunities in this area. 

If you want to find out more about the study or you are interested in participating, call 1-844-717-7737, toll-free.

If you want to find out more about the study or you are interested in participating, call 1-844-717-7737, toll-free.

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