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UR Nursing’s Abu-Ba’are Leads $2.3M Study on Improving HIV Prevention, Care in Ghana

  By Nora Williamson
  Monday, December 18, 2023

Gamji Rabiu Abu-Ba'are

New research study aims to address stigma and discrimination related to HIV prevention and treatment in Ghana, with potential to improve HIV care in marginalized communities worldwide.

A University of Rochester School of Nursing researcher has earned a $2.3 million National Institutes of Nursing Research grant to address stigma and discrimination related to HIV, sexual orientation, and gender expression and improve health outcomes among those who are most disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic in Ghana.

Assistant Professor of Nursing and Public Health Gamji Rabiu Abu-Ba’are, PhD, MA, will lead a five-year study to implement and test a unique multilevel intervention program. The program will provide comprehensive support and care among health care facilities and young men to address the social determinants of health that lead to disparities in HIV care.

"This study bridges a vital gap in HIV prevention and treatment by ensuring that the most advanced biomedical interventions are not just developed but are accessible and effective for those at the highest risk,” said Abu-Ba’are. “It's about transforming scientific breakthroughs into tangible health benefits for communities that need them the most, by understanding their unique experiences, steering us closer to a world where HIV is no longer a public health crisis, but a manageable health condition."

The project, “Status-neutral community-based multilevel intervention to address intersectional stigma and discrimination, and increase HIV testing, PrEP, and ART uptake among YGBMSM in Ghanaian Slums” will receive more than $2.3 million over five years from the National Institutes of Nursing Research. It aims to revolutionize HIV care for young gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men in Ghana’s slums, where social and economic challenges compound the risk of HIV.

Ghana is among the most rapidly urbanizing African nations, with more than half of the population currently living in its metropolitan areas. The United Nations predicts that Ghana's urban population will grow to 65 percent by 2030. However, about 2 of every 5 city dwellers live in slum settlements, where there is often little to no access to health care and sexual health services. Sexual minority men living in slums are among the hardest hit by these challenges.

Researchers will explore the program’s potential to reduce stigma and discrimination, and to increase HIV self-testing and Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) uptake among young sexual minority men. As part of the study, the program will include comprehensive training for health care workers and the integration of PrEP and Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) into the treatment plan. The program has already shown early efficacy in boosting HIV testing.

Co-investigators on the grant are Natalie Leblanc, PhD, MPH, RN, and Jim McMahon, PhD, with the University of Rochester School of Nursing, Kwasi Torpey, PhD, MPH, FGCOP, FWACP, and Chris Guure, PhD, with the University of Ghana, and LaRon Nelson, PhD, RN, FNP, FNYAM, FAAN, and Jeon Sangchoon, PhD, with the Yale School of Nursing.

Abu-Ba’are is the principal investigator of the Behavioral, Sexual, and Global Health Lab that operates out of the University of Rochester School of Nursing, and Jama’a Action, a community health organization based in Accra, Ghana. His research develops and refines interventions to reduce intersectional stigma and optimize outcomes among HIV high-risk populations in socially-vulnerable communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, Western Europe, and the United States.

Earlier this year, the NIH Fogarty International Center awarded $619,800 to support a three-year study on the feasibility of a group intervention program called "Lafiya" ("wellness" in the West African Hausa language) to improve HIV self-testing among young sexual minority men in urban areas of Ghana.

Categories: PhD, Patient Care, Research

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