The Social Context of HIV Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

Sponsor: NIH National Institute of Mental Health

Location(s): South Africa; United States


My long-term career goal is to become a fully independent clinical investigator in the area of biomedical HIV prevention interventions that are integrated within a behavioral and mental health context. To accomplish this goal, I propose a career development plan that combines course work, seminars, workshops, and directed reading. I also propose two research projects that are designed to increase knowledge about the behavioral and psychosocial context in which HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is currently used in high-risk populations, including men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States (Study 1) and sexual assault survivors in South Africa (Study 2). I will obtain formal training in epidemiology, quantitative and qualitative research methods, and biostatistics through the 9-month Advanced Training in Clinical Research in the Department of Epidemiology, and a series of qualitative methods courses in the Department of Medical Anthropology, both at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). In order to develop a more in-depth understanding of the social context in which HIV risk occurs, I have recruited nationally recognized experts in the areas of gender based violence (focusing on sexual violence and HIV transmission risk), mental health trauma (focusing on sexual assault), and international research ethics (focusing on the informed consent process), who will provide training through directed readings, seminars, workshops and regular supervisory meetings. I have assembled a distinguished group of mentors at UCSF and elsewhere, led by Thomas Coates, PhD, with whom I have a long-standing mentoring relationship. As my career development interests evolve, Dr. Coates' experience with international research and ethics, as well as behavioral and mental health approaches to HIV prevention, will be invaluable to my continued professional growth and independence. The research environment that I will be training in includes UCSF, San Francisco General Hospital and its largest division, the Positive Health Program (formerly called the AIDS Program). In addition, I will collaborate with investigators at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, where I will conduct research at several local hospitals (Groote Schuur and Jooste Hospitals in Cape Town and Eben Donges Hospital, a rural hospital in the Western Cape Province).