Assistant Professor and Chancellor’sScholar for Inclusive Excellence in Sexual and Gender Minority Health Gabriel Robles was recently awarded a $341,000 grant from the Center for AIDS Research Adelante Mentored Research Program.
The Adelante Program is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) and is administered through two NIH-funded Centers for AIDS Research (CFARs): the District of Columbia CFAR and the Emory University CFAR. Through this program, the NIH strives to promote the mentored development of early-career investigators who focus on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care in Latinx communities.
“I am so excited to have been selected to participate in the Adelante Program,” said Dr. Robles. “The program will help me jumpstart a collaborative research program. As universities begin to value community-engaged research, early career researchers may find it difficult to form relationships with community stakeholders. This program will help me build long lasting collaborative relationships with community members and other CFAR investigators.”
A key feature of the grant program is the community-engaged research methods investigators implement. Specifically, Dr. Robles’ team consists of a CFAR affiliated mentor Dr. Carlos Rodriguez-Diaz and Mr. Christopher Cannon, the collaborating community partner from Whitman-Walker Health. The grant funds a two-year project that seeks to examine the decision making of Latinx sexual minority men (SMM) in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The research will take place in two phases:
- Phase 1: To identify CBO-level PrEP service mechanisms to understand the current patient flow for patients seeking to initiate PrEP, including eliciting perspectives on PrEP initiation concerns on the behalf of the staff and providers.
- Phase 2: To quantitatively examine the relative importance of several characteristics of PrEP regimens, including their impact on perceived effectiveness and intentions to initiate PrEP among Latinx SMM.
“This research is important because we know that PrEP does a great job at preventing HIV infections,” Dr. Robles explained. “That said, there is a lot of misinformation about what PrEP is and how it works. The strategy that seems to be widely used in the HIV field is to educate potential patients about the efficacy of the pill and to dispel any myths about its side effects. But research shows that stigma and other structural factors impede PrEP uptake. This includes costs, transportation, and clinic wait times, among others. In real life settings, patients weigh both the burden of accessing PrEP and the PrEP medication itself. What’s interesting is that the types of PrEP approved by the FDA will expand in the next year or two. Thus, we need to do the work now, to be prepared for rolling it out in the Latinx SMM community.”