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August 30, 2014, 12:18 am

UPenn gets $2M grant for HIV research

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have received a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study novel approaches to preventing chronic diseases in HIV-positive African-American men.

“African-American men who are infected with HIV are living longer than ever before and are now being impacted by the same chronic diseases that affect the general population of African-American men over 40,” said principal investigator John B. Jemmott, Ph.D., professor of communication in psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine and Kenneth B. Clark, professor of communication at the Annenberg School for Communication.

“We know that in addition to standard age-related factors, many of these chronic illnesses have behavioral components — risk is influenced by what people do and don’t do, their diet, and the amount of physical activity they get. Based on this complex intersection, we need to identify novel strategies to help these men navigate their lives in the healthiest way possible.”

Jemmott says that although the high risk for multiple behavior-linked chronic diseases among HIV-positive individuals has long been recognized, there is a lack of evidence-based interventions specifically tailored to their needs. The risk is heightened by HIV infection, but also its treatment with certain agents used in highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) combinations.

“We hope this research will help in the urgent need for interventions to reduce the risk of non-HIV related chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes in HIV positive African-American men age 40 and older,” said Jemmott.

Additional Penn faculty involved in the trial are: Loretta Sweet Jemmott, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing; Dr. Ian Frank, Division of Infectious Diseases, Perelman School of Medicine; and Scarlett Bellamy, Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Perelman School of Medicine.