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UC program funds testing of HIV prevention pill

UC’s California HIV/AIDS Research Program (CHRP) has awarded grants totaling $11.8 million to three teams of investigators to test a potential HIV prevention pill among high-risk HIV-uninfected people in California.

The studies also will examine new strategies to engage and retain HIV-infected people in care and treatment. These combined strategies are expected to help curb the HIV epidemic in California.

Two of the research teams will offer the HIV prevention pill — part of an intervention known as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis with antiretroviral drugs) — to an estimated 700 high-risk uninfected men who have sex with men (MSM) and to transgender women (male-to-female transgendered people) in Los Angeles, San Diego and Long Beach over the next four years. PrEP also includes the provision of risk-reduction counseling and other services.

These researchers also will assess the implementation of testing and linkage to care plus treatment — known as “TLC+” — a strategy to locate, engage and retain HIV-infected people in care and start them on life-saving treatment for HIV infection. The TLC+ intervention will include some 3,000 people in Southern California.

A third research group will not fully implement PrEP or TLC+ at this time, but will instead plan and pilot PrEP/TLC+ implementation strategies for young MSM of color in Oakland, Richmond, Berkeley and other East Bay locations.

This will be the largest PrEP/TLC+ demonstration project initiative in the U.S. and the first to test PrEP in these Southern California communities.

“HIV has been with us for more than 30 years, and it’s time to provide some new interventions for high-risk people so they have options to protect themselves and prevent further transmission,” said George Lemp, Dr.P.H., director of the UC-based CHRP. “We hope this new approach can finally help to curtail the epidemic in this state.”

“These studies will provide critical information on the implementation of PrEP and TLC+ strategies in California and will help guide state and national efforts to address the epidemic,” Lemp added.

“UC is pleased to support this important initiative in California, which we believe is unique in the nation,” said Steven Beckwith, UC vice president for research and graduate studies. “We are pleased that UC resources and talent can play an important role in addressing these health care challenges as the research arm of the state.”

>> See the full story, including details about the three research teams who received funds.

>> Get more information about the California HIV/AIDS Research Program.

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