The Fenway Institute was one of only two U.S. sites involved in the groundbreaking iPrex study which garnered international attention by demonstrating that taking a daily does of anti-HIV oral medication provides protection against HIV transmission in HIV negative gay and bisexual men and transgender women. Called Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, this approach offers a possible new tool that could lower HIV infection rates worldwide.
In the study, individuals at high risk for HIV infection who took a single daily tablet containing two widely used HIV medications, emtricitabine and tenofovir (FTC/TDF), experienced an average of 43.8 percent fewer HIV infections than those who were assigned to take a placebo pill. The study, reported in the November 23, 2010 New England Journal of Medicine, is the first evidence that this new HIV prevention method, called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, reduces HIV infection in people at increased risk of infection.
Dr. Kenneth Mayer, Medical Research Director and Co-Chair of The Fenway Institute, is one of the Principal Investigators on the study and an author on the New England Journal of Medicine article. You can learn more about the iPrex study here.
Judith B. Bradford, PhD, and Harvey J. Makadon, MD, of The Fenway Institute were key members of the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Issues and Research Gaps and Opportunities at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of The National Academies that advanced the future of LGBT health research with the 2011 release of The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding. This historic report will guide the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Congress and other federal agencies as they design and fund research projects aimed at documenting and addressing LGBT health disparities improving the health of LGBT populations. Consistent with the goals of the Affordable Care Act, this report also will provide tools to begin to do work on improving the health of LGBT populations. You can learn more about the IOM report here.
The Fenway Institute is the rst community-based organization ever funded to do population-based research on the LGBT community. The Center for Population Research in LGBT Health plays a key role in setting the national agenda for LGBT health and is training the next generation of LGBT scholars. On March 25, 2011, The Population Research Center convened a scientific meeting to explore health issues at the intersections of race/ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender. The meeting included 20 scholars from 15 institutions across the country who came together for a series of structured dialogues on the topic. Meeting participants gave informal talks on one of three panels: theoretical/conceptual issues, methodology, and future research. You can learn more about The Center for Population Research here.
After a decade of advocacy from The Fenway Institute, our friends at The National Coalition for LGBT Health and others, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services took an important step forward for LGBT health as they unveiled Healthy People 2020(HP2020), the blueprint for national public health prevention and policy goals for the next decade. For the first time lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender health is recognized and there is clear acknowledgement that LGBT individuals experience health disparities that affect their health status. LGBT health appears as a special topic area among the 42 listed within HP2020, and transgender people are included in the document. Previous versions of Healthy People referred only to lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Information on the recommendations can be found at www.healthypeople.gov.
The Network for LGBT Tobacco Control officially became the Network for LGBT Health Equity in 2011. With the change in name came an expanded focus and mission, “Igniting and channeling passion through facilitating effective collaboration, communication, mobilization and advocacy, and public policy to create more socially just and healthier communities for LGBT people.” The Network had several noteworthy accomplishments during the course of the year.
After years of advocacy and pressure from the Network and others, United States Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sebelius announced that HHS will collect LGBT data on major National Health Surveys. Better data collection should lead to greater acceptance of the tobacco-related and other health issues facing LGBT people, and better funding and inclusion in federal, state and local health initiatives.
Through a collaboration with the Network, Puerto Rico held its first ever LGBT Health Summit. The Network also offered trainings, technical assistance and presentations to groups across the United States. Topics included LGBT cultural competency, grant writing and RFA development support, needs assessments and more. The Network’s resource library grew by 45% and now includes hundreds of articles, reports, marketing images, and Network materials.
You can learn more about the Network for LGBT Health Equity here.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded The Fenway Institute a $2.2 million, 5-year grant to support HIV prevention programming for gay and bisexual men. The award will allow The Fenway Institute and its partner on the project, the Multicultural AIDS Coalition, to dramatically enhance existing prevention services. Dubbed Boston Respect, the new initiative consists of a series of bundled interventions designed to help gay and bisexual men respect themselves and each other by promoting good sexual health. Gay and bisexual men are the only population in the United States with rising numbers of new HIV infections and Boston Respect works to address that by promoting HIV and STD testing and encouraging people to know their HIV status and build skills to keep themselves and their partners safe.
The CDC-funded program works closely with the already exisiting Navigation Project, which uses Peer Health Navigators to reach those at highest risk for health disparities and connect them to life-saving services. Navigation clients include gay and bisexual men, transgender individuals, those affected by crystal methamphetamine use, and other individuals at high-risk for health disparities. Fenway’s Peer Health Navigators hold more than 2,500 individual and group client meetings annually. They meet their clients at Fenway, at other community-based organizations and out in the community and often accompany them to doctor visits or to help them access services. Ask Doctor Cox is the online component of the Navigation Project aimed at gay and bisexual men and answers more than 550 medical and behavioral health questions per year. You can learn more about this work here.
Dr. Kenneth Mayer, Medical Research Director and Co-Chair of The Fenway Institute, was appointed to the International AIDS Society’s Governing Council for 2010-2014 and attended the Governing Council Retreat in Kampala, Uganda in November 2011. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the International AIDS Society is the world’s leading independent association of HIV professionals, working together to end the HIV epidemic, applying scientific evidence and best practice at every level of the HIV response.