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HIV/AIDS Research Roundup

The Latest on Prevention and Treatment

Since HIV/AIDS was first identified nearly four decades ago, research continues to advance the fields of both infection prevention and treatment. Research at Northwestern Medicine looks to advance medical options for people who are at risk of infection or living with HIV, as well as address disparities in HIV cases and treatment among racial and sexual minorities.

HIV and COVID-19

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Northwestern University scientists a grant to conduct advanced antibody testing in young adults in sexual and gender minority communities to investigate their COVID-19 exposure and how the virus has impacted them. The study will also evaluate the effect of socio-behavioral risks, asymptomatic systemic inflammation and HIV infection on the prevalence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 within this population. The study is being led by Third Coast CFAR Co-director Brian Mustanski, PhD, who is director of the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing, and professor of Medical Social Sciences, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Read the full article.

HIV Prevention Among Sexual and Gender Minority Groups

NIDA also awarded a $13.7 million, five-year grant to the Northwestern University Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH). The grant supports the expansion of the RADAR study to promote innovative research on HIV, relationships and substance use among young men who have sex with men (MSM), as well as among transgender women, and nonbinary individuals assigned male at birth. Read the full article. 

Treatment of Early HIV Infection

Published in The EMBO Journal, findings from a study conducted at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine suggest a specialized protein plays a role in the early stages of HIV infection. Supported by NIH, the study improves understanding around the evolution and varied replication strategies of the HIV virus. Read the full article.

A separate Northwestern Medicine study, published in Cell Reports, discovers an emerging cancer treatment that helps to block HIV infection processes inside the cell. Read the full article.

HIV Testing Among At-Risk Teenage Boys

There is a rise in undiagnosed HIV infections in the U.S., with 51.5% of estimated undiagnosed cases among 13- to 24-year-olds. Published in the journal Pediatrics, findings reveal alarmingly low rates of HIV testing among gay, bisexual and questioning teenage boys who are at an elevated risk for HIV. Supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) of the NIH, the research sheds light on factors that increase the likelihood of testing among this population. Read the full article.

Advances for HIV Prevention and Treatment

When HIV was first discovered in the early 1980s, it carried a devastating stigma that kept patients from seeking information, care and support. Fear and shame led to further spread of the virus and more lives lost. While there is still no cure for HIV, the medical community has a much greater understanding of the virus and how it's transmitted. Advances in medicine are helping people reduce their risk of developing HIV and helping those who are infected live healthy, active lives. Read the full article.

Future HIV Prevention Among Gay Men

While sexual and gender minority (SGM) adolescents assigned male at birth are at an elevated risk for HIV, this population is not represented in most research around novel biomedical HIV prevention approaches. In testing new developments like nondaily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) regimens and long-acting injectable forms, the PrEP 4 the Future study seeks to include this at-risk population in evaluating the effectiveness of such innovative methods of PrEP delivery. Read the full article.

Different Delivery Methods for PrEP and HIV Treatment

It's been clinically proven that the sexual transmission of HIV infection can be prevented with antiretroviral (ARV) medications. However, finding the best way to deliver this HIV treatment remains a challenge. The Sustained Long-Acting Protection from HIV (SLAP HIV) program aims to address this problem by developing and clinically testing a long-acting medication-delivery system to provide up to one year of protection for individuals at high risk of HIV infection. The SLAP HIV program is funded by the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Read the full article.

Sexually Transmitted Infections: What You Need to Know

Whether you're single, married or returning to the midlife dating game, anyone who is sexually active is at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. Northwestern Medicine Gynecologist and Sexual Medicine Specialist Lauren Streicher, MD, answers the most common questions about STIs and how you can protect yourself. Read the full article.