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Research

Domestic Projects

EPIC-P (Expanding PrEP Implementation in Communities of PWID)

Sponsor: Gilead Sciences
Mechanism: Gilead Investigator Sponsored Research (IN-US-412-5629)
Period: 2019 – 2023
Role: Principal Investigator
Description: This is a non-randomized, open-label study designed to test the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of the EPIC-P intervention among high-risk people who inject drugs (PWID) with opioid dependence (N=100). Based on the IMB model for health behavior change, the EPIC-P is a biobehavioral intervention that incorporates: i) a biomedical component (i.e., descovy prescription); ii) behavioral component (i.e., drug- and sex-related primary HIV prevention); and iii) mHealth strategy (i.e., text messaging PrEP reminders). This is the first study that is utilizing Descovy as an HIV prevention tool for HIV prevention among PWID.

iRaPID (Integrated rapid access to HIV prevention program for people who inject drugs)

Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Mechanism: R21 (R21DA051934)
Period: 2020 – 2023
Role: Principal Investigator
Description: This is a non-randomized, open-label study designed to test the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of the EPIC-P intervention among high-risk people who inject drugs (PWID) with opioid dependence (N=100). Based on the IMB model for health behavior change, the EPIC-P is a biobehavioral intervention that incorporates: i) a biomedical component (i.e., descovy prescription); ii) behavioral component (i.e., drug- and sex-related primary HIV prevention); and iii) mHealth strategy (i.e., text messaging PrEP reminders). This is the first study that is utilizing Descovy as an HIV prevention tool for HIV prevention among PWID.

Methadone vs. Buprenorphine Therapy for opioid dependence: Diet and metabolic implications

Sponsor: Rutgers University
Mechanism: Busch Biomedical Grant Program
Period: 2018 – 2022
Role: Multiple Principal Investigator (MPI)
Description: This is a multi-site observational study that will utilize a prospective longitudinal cohort design to study the differential effects of methadone vs. buprenorphine maintenance therapy on dietary or metabolic outcomes (e.g., weight gain, glycemic control measures) among individuals with opioid dependence. This study will provide important insights into the role of sweet preference in influencing sugar intake and weight outcomes in OUD patients. This can aid in risk assessment and development of targeted dietary interventions to improve diet quality and prevent excess weight gain in this high-risk population.

International Projects

Development & testing of a mobile application to enhance HIV prevention cascade in Malaysian MSM (Malaysia)

Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Mechanism: R21/R33 (R21TW011665)
Period: 2020 – 2025
Role: Principal Investigator
Description: This project involves developing and prospectively testing the efficacy of a clinic-affiliated app (JomPrEP®) to deliver an integrated HIV prevention intervention that will promote HIV testing and linkage to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and incorporates screening and support for underlying psychiaatric and substance use disorder (P/SUD) among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Malaysia. Using a Type 1 Hybrid Implementation Science Trial, this project aims to evaluate the efficacy of the JomPrEP® app vs. treatment as usual (TAU) in Malaysian MSM for primary (HIV testing and PrEP uptake) and secondary (PrEP adherence and persistence) efficacy outcomes. Multi-level implementation outcomes will involve stakeholders’ perspective of the relative advantage of JomPrEP® app, adaptability, perceived design quality and packaging, compatibility in the Malaysian context, interest in sharing the app with others and readiness for implementation.

Training in mHealth Prevention with MSM (Malaysia)

Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Mechanism: K01 (K01DA051346)
Period: 2020 – 2025
Role: Principal Investigator
Description: The proposed research focuses on conducting two formative studies to overcome barriers along the HIV prevention cascade that now includes pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among Malaysian men who have sex with men (MSM). First, information about MSM’s preferences of various attributes of PrEP delivery programs, including segmentation of ATS-using MSM, will be assessed using a nationwide choice-based conjoint (CBC) online survey. Then, building on the first study, we will develop and test an mHealth-based intervention (smartphone app) to overcome barriers along the prevention continuum, including HIV testing, co-occurring sexual and drug risk behaviors and PrEP uptake among Malaysian MSM.

Improving HIV testing and PrEP for transgender women through mHealth (Malaysia)

Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Mechanism: R21 (R21AI157857)
Period: 2021 – 2023
Role: Principal Investigator (MPI)
Description: This research project focuses on developing and testing a clinic-affiliated app (MyLink2Care) to deliver an integrated HIV prevention intervention that incorporates tailored HIV prevention and gender-affirming care services to transgender women (TGW) in Malaysia. We expect that this project will lead to the development of an innovative and culturally tailored app that will address multilevel barriers to HIV testing and PrEP uptake in Malaysian TGW.

Completed Projects

COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy among people living with HIV: A national survey (USA)

Period: 2020 – 2021
Role: Multiple Principal Investigator (MPI)
Description: Scaling up vaccination against COVID-19 is central to controlling the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States. Novel vaccines were developed rapidly but public concerns over safety and efficacy have resulted in heightened distrust and vaccine hesitancy. This is particularly concerning among people with HIV (PWH) who are at higher risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19 due to overlapping co-morbidities. This study’s aim is to identify and understand COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in a sample of PWH in the U.S.

Examining Ethical Concerns in the Context of App-Based HIV Prevention Research with Men who have Sex with Men in the Malaysian Context (Malaysia)

Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Mechanism: R25 (R25DA031608)
Period: 2020 – 2021
Role: Subaward Principal Investigator (PI: Fisher)
Description: App-based platforms in mHealth are a promising strategy to increase access to effective biomedical preventions, like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Little guidance is available to inform researchers about the ethical issues related to the use of app-based HIV prevention programs among MSM in Malaysia. Given the social, behavioral, and ethical issues surrounding the use of the mHealth platform, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) such as Malaysia, we designed this study to assess attitudes toward the use of an app to link MSM to PrEP services and to examine perceived ethical issues related to its use among Malaysian MSM.