Upstate partners with area universities on project to fight the spread of HIV

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- Upstate’s Immune Health Services Medical Director ElizabethAsiago-Reddy, MD, MS, has joined experts from Syracuse University andthe University of Rochester in executing a project aimed at learningmore about how to prevent HIV infection in at-risk men.

The project centers around a one-year study involving PrEP,pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV,  and was recently awarded $74,211 fromthe National Institutes of Health. IRB approval is pending.

“The study is geared toward people in the community who are at highrisk for HIV and are candidates for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis but arenot currently taking it,” said Asiago-Reddy.

Asiago-Reddy says while there are many different types of individualsat risk for HIV who might benefit from PrEP, this study specificallyfocuses on young men who have sex with men, and young transgender womenwho have sex with men, ages 15 to 25. The incidence of HIV is highest inthese groups.

Once approved, the study will be rolled out in two phases.Investigators seek to enroll 30 participants for the first phase and 75for the second phase.

The first phase will focus on in-depth interviews on participantsknowledge about PrEP, feelings about their risk for HIV, pros and consof current and future PrEP options.

“We are trying to break down the essential elements of PrEP, such asmode of delivery, cost, effectiveness and accessibility. What does theideal HIV prevention program look like to participants?” Asiago-Reddysays.

Data from phase-one interviews will be used in the creation of aDiscrete Choice Experiment (DCE), phase two of the study, showingparticipants two distinct options for PrEP. Results from phase two willhelp researchers tailor PrEP options to attract more individuals fromhigh-risk groups.

“If we are not offering PrEP and HIV prevention options that areattractive and feasible for these individuals, we will not be makingadequate progress in the fight against HIV,” said Asiago-Reddy.

Enrollment in this study will begin once IRB approval has beengranted. Once approved, study information will be available in multiplelocations throughout Syracuse, including the Onondaga County STD clinicat the Civic Center, ACR Health, Southwest Community Center and theSyracuse University and Upstate Medical University campuses.

Asiago-Reddy joins Andrew London, PhD, professor of sociology atSyracuse University; John McPeak, PhD, professor of publicadministration and international affairs at Syracuse University; andTheresa Senn, PhD, assistant professor of clinical nursing at Universityof Rochester Center for AIDS Research, in this team effort.

The project is sponsored by the University of Rochester Center for AIDS Research,