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HIV HIV

New Funding Will Support the Continuation of FINISHING HIV: An HIV Protection, Diagnosis and Treatment Network for Latinos

Mariano Kanamori, M.A., Ph.D., assistant professor in the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences, is the recipient of the 2021 Gilead Award that will support the continuation of a project titled, FINISHING HIV. The award—offered through the Research Scholars program of Gilead Sciences, Inc.—supports research that improves patient lives and advances scientific knowledge in areas of unmet medical needs.

Dr. Mariano Kanamori

Mariano Kanamori,
M.A., Ph.D.

“There are several suggestions as to why HIV protection awareness levels differ between gay-identified and non-gay-identified Latinos. First, Latino cultural values (e.g., Machismo) tied to internalized and community homophobia may contribute to Latinos’ reluctance to identify as gay. This stigma also fosters anonymous sexual encounters, where there is less opportunity for safer sex negotiation and serostatus disclosure. Second, the majority of HIV prevention programs focus only on gay-identified Latino men who have sex with men (MSM), missing those non-gay-identified Latino MSM who identify as bisexual/straight. As such, not only are non-gay-identified MSM more likely to be behaviorally vulnerable to HIV, but also may transmit the HIV epidemic to women and the general population. As there are scant comprehensive HIV protection interventions for the general Latino community, our program, FINISHING HIV, fills this gap,” Dr. Kanamori said.

Miami-Dade County has one of the highest HIV incidence numbers in the US. FINISHING HIV, which began in 2020, is geared towards three distinct Latino MSM subgroups in the county, including straight, gay and bisexual.

FINISHING HIV is reaching large numbers of Latinos through 3 networks: 1) Social Network for gay-identified Latino MSM. In this network, outreach specialists, HIV testing counselors, and peer educators are providing comprehensive HIV protection education. 2) Park Network for non-gay identified Latino MSM. In this network, peer educators are conducting outreach to increase comprehensive HIV protection awareness. 3) Pharmacy Network for all Latino men. HIV protection educational materials are disseminated by CVS Health.

“Over the past two years, we have built sustainable local partnerships with Latinos Salud (a local HIV agency for Latino MSM) and CVS Health. In our EHE pilots, we developed methods to engage Latino MSM based on sexual self-identity. Gay-oriented social events are effective settings to reach Latino MSM who self-identify as gay. Pharmacies provide neutral environments where HIV protection information can reach Latino MSM not engaged in the gay scene. Our implementation strategy, developed jointly with community engagement from Latinos Salud and CVS Health, addresses both of these populations and is based on infrastructure, targeted clients, and services provided. The research gap we are filling is the need for implementable approaches to disseminate HIV protection information to all Latino MSM, including those who are not engaged in the gay scene,” Dr. Kanamori said.

HIV Community Education

Written by Veronica Bustabad
Published on December 23, 2021