sheldon_d._fields.jpgMIAMI – On the heels of his participation with the HIV Prevention Trials Network landmark “Brother’s Study,” which found an alarming HIV incidence rate among black men who have sex with men (BMSM), Sheldon D. Fields, assistant dean of Clinical Affairs and Health Policy at the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Florida International University in Miami, has now embarked as co-chair on a study directed at measuring the efficacy of drug-based HIV prevention measures among the gay and bisexual black male community.

This $8 million dollar study is sponsored and funded by the Division of AIDS, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.

This demonstration study is designed to see if BMSM are willing to use Truvada, a daily pill for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP is a new HIV prevention method in which people who are HIV-negative take an HIV treatment drug (antiretroviral – “ARV”) daily to reduce their risk of becoming HIV-infected. To date, Truvada is the only ARV approved by the Food and Drug

Administration (FDA) for PrEP use in adults.

“While other studies have shown promise for PrEP, this will be the first that specifically looks at PrEP initiation, acceptability, safety, and feasibility among BMSM in the United States – a population that is habitually underrepresented in HIV research trials,” said Fields. “Considering that BMSM make up nearly 30 percent of all new HIV infections in the country, it is imperative that we explore prevention strategies that might help black men better protect themselves and their communities.”

The study will enroll a total of 225 HIV-negative BMSM in Los Angeles, Calif., Chapel Hill, N.C., and Washington, D.C. to gather feedback about the experience from the men who elect to use PrEP, as well as those who do not.

The new study is a follow-up effort to Fields’ involvement with “The Brother’s Study” – which concluded in July 2012. This large multi-site study involving more than 1,500 participants from the BMSM community in six U.S. cities was the first of its kind to determine the rate of new HIV infection among the group.

HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness is an area of interest for other faculty at the Florida International University Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Since 2006, Associate Nursing Professor Sande Gracia Jones has spearheaded federally funded, student-led prevention, care and intervention programs for young adults and vulnerable populations.