Researchers to study use of anti-HIV meds on Long Island
Anthony J. Santella, DrPH, assistant professor of health professions and director of the Master of Public Health program at the School of Health Professions and Human Services, has won a $30,000 grant from the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute to study the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (better known as PrEP, an FDA-approved medication to prevent transmission of HIV) in health care settings and high-risk communities on Long Island.
His co-researchers on the year-long study are Andrew Spieldenner, PhD, assistant professor of rhetoric at Hofstra and Spring C. Cooper, PhD, associate professor of community health and social sciences at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy.
Beginning June 1, the researchers will survey primary-care providers in the Northwell Health and Stony Brook Medicine health systems on their knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and practices regarding PrEP, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes can reduce the risk of HIV from sex by more than 90 percent, if used as prescribed.
“The Long Island region is home to the largest suburban HIV epidemic in the United States, so my colleagues and I are eager to work on this important research project to help determine what works and where the barriers are ,” said Dr. Santella. “We hope the results of the study will provide a deeper understanding of strategies to broaden PrEP adoption and ultimately end the HIV epidemic once and for all.”
The project will also survey men who have sex with men (MSM) and transwomen on their knowledge, attitudes and use of PrEP, and include semi-structured interviews with a diverse group of MSM and transwomen to develop new plans of increasing PrEP use in those populations.
The study goals reflect a plan released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that aims to end the AIDS epidemic in New York by 2020 through a three-pronged approach of identifying people with HIV and linking them to care and treatment, helping them maintaining regular contact with health providers to achieve viral suppression, and making access to PrEP easy and affordable.