Calling all Transgender and gender non-conforming people! The Los Angeles LGBT Center is currently seeking volunteers for a PrEP study.
This PrEP study is unique in that it is the first to focus specifically on transgender and gender non-conforming people. The study delves into the reasons why the HIV infection is so high, particularly in transgender women. According the study, PrEP is not catching on with trans and gender non-conforming people in the way that it’s caught on with gay and bisexual men.
For those not in the know, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) involves taking a pill called Truvada which can prevent HIV from infecting healthy cells. The regimen requires taking one pill a day.
The study involves six visits over a one-year period. It will monitor participants during the time they take the HIV prevention pill. Participants will have regular lab tests conducted to make sure their kidneys are healthy and that the pill isn’t having any adverse effects on their general health. There will be routine testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections. The study will also look at whether Truvada has an impact on hormones. Participants will also be compensated for their time.
Adherence is important to the study. Participants will get daily text messages reminding them to take their PrEP. They text back after they have taken the drug. If they miss three doses, they will get a phone call from a member of the study team to discuss ways to improve.
“It’s a population that is at very high risk for HIV infection,” says Risa Flynn, the Center’s Health Services Senior Manager of Research. “But there’s some reluctance to be on PrEP or be part of the study at all. What we’ve found with studies like this is it takes time for word of mouth to spread.”
The only eligibility requirements are that someone be 18 years or older, identify as transgender or gender non-conforming and be sexually active and HIV-negative.
“Just having access to medical care is sometimes hard for transgender and gender non-conforming people, so this makes it a little bit easier,” Flynn added. “If they join the study, they will be able to get resources for medical help so they can have access to hormone replacement therapy if they’re not already on it. And of course, they’ll get PrEP for free.”
A separate component of the study focuses on whether participants are having employment, housing or substance use issues and whether they have access to a primary care physician. As a whole, transgender people generally have greater health challenges.
“If we address some of the barriers to healthcare, can we increase the likelihood that someone will prioritize PrEP?,” asks Flynn. “Rather than just talking about sexual risk, we’re considering the many competing needs and challenges in the lives of transgender people.”
Did we mention participants are compensated for each visit? Anyone interested in participating in the study can call 323-993-8919 or email firstname.lastname@example.org