Assistant Professor Addresses Longtime HIV Testing Barriers in Peru

Brandon Brown is an assistant professor in the School of Medicine at UC Riverside. Photo credit: Brown lab, UC Riverside.

Not much is known about the acceptability of oral HIV tests in Latin America. In Peru, the HIV epidemic is concentrated in men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women (TGW). Yet here, in 2013, only 6 percent of MSM knew their HIV status; no such data is available for TGW.

Brandon Brown, an assistant professor in the Center for Healthy Communities in the School of Medicine, is a co-author on a paper in Sexually Transmitted Infections that reports on an analysis he and colleagues conducted among 334 Peruvian MSM and TGW. To their surprise, the researchers found that 85 percent of the participants indicated their acceptability of the oral HIV test, which uses oral fluids collected from the gum line and provides results in 20 minutes.

“We found that factors associated with oral HIV acceptability in Peru were: believing, erroneously, that saliva transmits HIV; sex under the influence of drugs; and higher education level,” Brown said. “Peruvian MSM and TGW are highly vulnerable to HIV, but stigma, limited access, and blood tests via venipuncture present barriers to testing. The noninvasive oral HIV test, however, can be self-administered and could effectively address these barriers. This would increase testing rates among Peruvian MSM and TGW and assist HIV prevention in Peru and elsewhere in Latin America.”

The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and Merck & Co. Inc.

-Iqbal Pittalwala

Dr. Gerald Maguire to Review His Study of a Stuttering Treatment at International Conferences

Dr. Gerald Maguire, associate dean of graduate medical education and the chair of psychiatry in the UCR School of Medicine.

Dr. Gerald Maguire, associate dean of graduate medical education and the chair of psychiatry in the UCR School of Medicine, will review at several international conferences in the next few months the study results of ecopipam treatment of stuttering: the American Psychiatric Association meeting (New York City in May); International Conference on Stuttering (Rome  in June); National Stuttering Association conference (Chicago in July); and the inaugural Joint World Congress “One World, Many Voices: Science and Community” (Hiroshima, Japan, also in July).

In 2016, in collaboration with a speech laboratory at the University of Redlands, Maguire began a clinical trial in Riverside to determine the effectiveness of ecopipam treatment against stuttering.

An orally administered medication, ecopipam is a first-in-class drug that selectively blocks the actions of the neurotransmitter dopamine at its receptor. Dopamine receptors can be broadly classified into two families based on their structures: D1 receptors and D2 receptors. Ecopipam blocks dopamine only at D1 receptors, and thus acts differently than other commercially available medications.

“We are the only site in the world conducting this trial; before our clinical trial began, ecopipam hadn’t been tested for stuttering,” Maguire said.

UCR worked closely with research partner CITrials in the operation of the trial.

-Iqbal Pittalwala

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