Fenway Health

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September 27, 2006

Contact: Chris Viveiros
617.927.6342 / 617.721.7494

Fenway to host community forum on PrEP October 4 from 7 to 9 p.m.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have named The Fenway Institute at Fenway Community Health as the third domestic site to study the safety of Tenofivir use in HIV negative men.  The Fenway Institute will enroll 100 men who have sex with men and follow them for two years in this double blind study which will help answer questions regarding the behavioral and medical safety of Tenofivir use in HIV uninfected persons.

With an effective HIV vaccine at least a decade away, there is evidence and hope that Tenofovir, which is used to treat HIV, may play an important role in reducing HIV infection worldwide.  Animal studies have shown that, in some cases, Tenofovir can prevent or delay the transmission of a virus similar to HIV in monkeys.  This potential approach to preventing HIV transmission has been dubbed PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis).  

Fenway Community Health will host a community forum at The Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center, 85 West Newton Street, from 7 to 9 p.m. on October 4 to discuss this possible new approach to HIV prevention.  Speakers will include:
 Dr. Kenneth Mayer, Director of Medical Research, The Fenway Institute at Fenway Community Health
 Edd Lee, Director of Community Education, AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition
 Julie Davids, Executive Director, Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project

This study is not designed to examine Tenofivir’s efficacy in preventing HIV transmission but instead will look at the long-term safety of Tenofivir use in people who are not infected with HIV.  Tenofivir has been used as an anti-retroviral medication in HIV-positive people for several years, but there has been no large-scale study of Tenofivir use in HIV-negative people.

“As we move into the 26th year of this epidemic and continue to see millions of people worldwide infected with HIV annually, it is apparent that we need to expand our array of prevention tools,” said Dr. Kenneth Mayer, Co-Chair and Medical Research Director of The Fenway Institute.  “The use of pre-exposure medications like Tenofivir to prevent the transmission of HIV is one of the promising new prevention approaches that merits further investigation.  This safety trial is the beginning of that investigation.”

To help safeguard participants and assist them in eliminating or reducing HIV risk behaviors, extensive risk reduction counseling will be provided at each visit, and more often if requested.  The effectiveness of proven prevention strategies will be continually reinforced and free testing for HIV will be provided to all participants at any time throughout their participation in the study.

“If, down the road, it is determined that pre-exposure medication is a safe and effective tool for preventing the transmission of HIV, it will be used as part of a continuum of HIV prevention strategies,” said Mayer.  “Traditional approaches like behavior change, the consistent use of condoms, and knowing your HIV status and that of your partner will always be at the forefront of HIV prevention.  New technologies like pre-exposure medication might one day supplement those approaches.”

The Fenway Institute at Fenway Community Health joins the San Francisco Department of Public Health and AIDS Research Consortium of Atlanta as domestic pre-exposure medication study sites.   Because it is important for participants in HIV/AIDS clinical trials to reflect the demographics of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, The Fenway Institute will be recruiting men who have sex with men into the study.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one of the 13 major operating components of the Department of Health and Human Services, which is the principal agency in the United States government for protecting the health and safety of all Americans and for providing essential human services, especially for those people who are least able to help themselves.  More information at http://www.cdc.gov/

For more than thirty-five years, Fenway Community Health has been working to improve the physical and mental health of our community, especially those who are traditionally underserved like lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, women, those living with HIV/AIDS, and people from communities of color.  The Fenway Institute at Fenway Community Health works to increase the health of the larger community through research, education, outreach and health policy advocacy.   More information at www.fenwayhealth.org.



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