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Dr. Mariano Kanamori to Begin Project on Developing a HIV Protection, Diagnoses and Treatment Pharmacy and Parks Network for Latinos

The University of Miami Developmental HIV/AIDS Mental Health Research Center, one of the AIDS Research Center (ARC) programs funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), recently received awards to support various projects. Mariano Kanamori, Ph.D., professor of public health at the Miller School’s Department of Public Health Sciences, will serve as project investigator for one of those projects, titled, “FINISHING HIV: An HIV protection, diagnosis, and treatment network for Latinos”.

“Having HIV testing, prevention and treatment information and services available in pharmacies will be a particularly attractive implementation method to reach bisexual and closeted Latino men who have sex with men who do not approach traditional health services or HIV community programs because of the stigma associated with HIV in Latino communities,” Dr. Kanamori said.

Since 1981, more than 700,000 Americans have died from HIV. Currently, there are more than 1.1 million Americans who are living with the infection and many more who are at risk of contracting HIV. “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America”, an initiative established in January 2019, is working to reduce the number of new HIV infections in the United States by 75 percent within five years and by 90 percent within 10 years, as well as to prevent an estimated 250,000 total HIV infections.

To help enhance the implementation science knowledge that is needed to meet the goals of the initiative, as well as to enhance and coordinate high quality AIDS research projects, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and 11 other NIH institutes have co-funded ARC programs, as well as Centers for AIDS Research (CFAR) programs in 19 institutions across the U.S.

This month, the NIH and NIMH (one of the 11 NIH institutes) awarded one-year supplemental awards to these institutions to help further support pilot and formative studies, including the University of Miami’s ARC program. These studies will help prepare for future implementation science research proposals, as it is expected they will become more extensive by 2020.

Miami-Dade County, specifically, is known for being the epicenter of the HIV epidemic in the U.S. and where 61 percent of Latinos account for HIV diagnoses. Latino gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) account for 92 percent of new diagnoses.

Recently, Dr. Kanamori completed PrEParados, a study funded by CFAR-Adelante, which showed that the HIV epidemic in Miami-Dade is not just driven by Latino MSM who identify as gay, but also by those who identify as bisexual and by those who identify as straight. This study separated sexual behavior from sexual identity in order to address homophobia and Latino cultural values that impede Latino MSMs from receiving HIV prevention and treatment. Dr. Kanamori’s newly funded project is focusing on developing a protection, diagnosis and treatment network to reach these subgroups.

Dr. Kanamori’s project will use a pharmacy network and a parks network to increase awareness and utilization of HIV protection, diagnosis, and treatment services by these three distinct Latino MSM subgroups in the county.

The one-year award provided by NIHM will help lay the groundwork for FINISHING HIV by gathering essential data needed for the development of the projects, as well as for its rapid implementation. Dr. Kanamori will work on the project with Latinos, MSM, and researchers working with Latino MSM.

The pharmacy network, which will include the largest pharmaceutical corporations in the U.S., will implement a PrEP program. In the parks network, they will compile recommendations for HIV-prevention activities in Miami-Dade County parks, as well as in other community areas. This will be done in partnership with Latinos Salud, a South Florida-based Latino MSM HIV-agency and with the Miami-Dade County Department of Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces.

“The collaboration with Latinos Salud and the Miami Dade County Department of Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces will allow the expansion of Latinos Salud innovative programs all over Miami-Dade County,” he added.  

Dr. Kanamori will collaborate with the Miller School’s Susanne Doblecki-Lewis, M.D., associate professor and clinical chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, Steven Safren, Ph.D., director of the University of Miami Developmental HIV/AIDS Mental Health Research Center, Adam Carrico, Ph.D., associate professor of public health, and Stephan Fallon, co-founder of Latinos Salud, as well as with Cho Hee Shrader, a Ph.D. in Prevention Science and Community Health candidate.

Written by Amanda Torres
Published on October 2, 2019