A Spotlight on Early Career Faculty
In this Newsletter we spotlight our acclaimed early career faculty (ECF) and their research at the Division of Prevention Science.
In This Issue
  1. Director's Message
  2. Spotlight on Early Career Faculty Projects
  3. UCSF DPS Awarded CDC PRC Funding
  4. Announcements
  5. How Can We Assist Your Organization?
Marguerita Lightfoot, PhD - Director's Message
Success And Joy To All In 2020

As Director of UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) and Prevention Research Center (PRC), I am excited for the first newsletter of the New Year to recognize the important, innovative research that is being conducted by our early career faculty (ECF). These faculty are the future leaders in HIV research and are conducting innovative, high-impact projects. Their cadre of work not only shows their commitment to intellectual rigor but also is a testament of their humanity, passion, and compassion in addressing HIV among populations that are most impacted by the HIV epidemic, specifically Black and Latinx populations, men who have sex with men (MSM), couples in Sub-Saharan Africa, low income communities, and older people living with HIV. These acclaimed researchers have successfully secured funding from a spectrum of internal and external sources. Funding includes research career development awards (e.g., NIH K23 and CFAR funding) and NIH R-level funding. As these rising stars continue to chart their respective research paths, I look forward to their diverse inquiries into HIV, which no doubt will help the nation claim an end to the HIV epidemic by 2030. Please enjoy this newsletter and click on available links to learn more about the researchers and their projects.
Spotlight on Early Career Faculty Projects
Assistant Professor PhD, MPH

Umodzi M’Banja (“Unity in the Family”; UMB): Dyadic Experiences of HIV Treatment Engagement in Malawi
Research on the HIV care continuum in sub-Saharan Africa has largely focused on structural and individual-level barriers and facilitators, resulting in a weak understanding of factors at the relationship level. Amy Conroy’s UMB project consists of a mixed-methods investigation of dyadic aspects of engagement in the HIV care continuum among couples living with HIV in Malawi, a high prevalence country in southern Africa. Based on preliminary findings highlighting the importance of alcohol use, a CFAR award was also obtained to investigate patterns and social-structural drivers of alcohol use and impacts on the relationship and health among a subset of couples who drink alcohol. The ultimate goal of this work is to develop a couple-based intervention to improve HIV treatment outcomes in Malawi. Read more here.

The M’lambe Study: A Pilot RCT of an Economic and Relationship-Strengthening Intervention Targeting Alcohol Use. Heavy alcohol use has deleterious effects on HIV treatment outcomes, and damages the couple relationships needed for social support, economic survival, and well-being. Yet, no interventions have jointly addressed the economic and relationship context of drinking in sub-Saharan Africa. Based on the findings of UMB, this study will develop and pilot test a combined economic and relationship-strengthening intervention to redirect funds spent on alcohol into financial investments (e.g., education, income-generating business) and to improve couple relationships and adherence to ART. By engaging couples to work together on alcohol use and financial goals—equipped with financial, communication, and problem-solving skills— Amy Conroy and colleagues hope to decrease alcohol use, and improve relationship dynamics and adherence to ART. 

Assistant Professor PhD, MS

Adaptive treatment intervention for depression and engagement in HIV care among Latinos living with HIV. John Sauceda is conducting a sequential multiple assignment randomized trial to optimize evidence-based treatments for depression and mHealth technology for the promotion of HIV care engagement. The trial will recruit Spanish and English-speaking Latinx patients at the SALUD Clinic at Ward 86 at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospita l. Efficacious treatments for depression will be leveraged to build an adaptive treatment strategy to reduce depression while promoting HIV care engagement. Read more here.

HIV care engagement with Latinx people living with HIV in Los Angeles. John Sauceda and colleagues are conducting a two-year mixed-method study to promote HIV care engagement among Latinx people living with HIV (PLWH) in Los Angeles. Together with Bienestar , a Latino/a-focused community-based organization that provides services across Los Angeles, they will use the Index of Engagement in HIV Care tool to estimate the level of HIV care engagement at the Bienestar HIV clinic. Community-led strategies for facilitating and solving problems around HIV care engagement will be identified.
Assistant Professor, PhD

mHealth: Assessing its use and interaction among two users. Few mHealth designs target the joint, dyadic experience of two users in facilitating interactions between them. This research conducted by Judy Tan is innovative for extending beyond the standard individual-based mHealth design to consider the interdependence between users that affect behavior. Findings from this research may be applicable to other types of dyads, such as the patient-provider, parent-child, and the caregiver-care-receiver dyads.

LetSync : Advances in antiretroviral therapy mean that people who are HIV-positive can live healthy lives as long as they engage in HIV care and treatment. However, biomedical advances have not benefitted all populations equally, resulting in drastic disparities by racial/ethnic and sexual minority statuses. LetSync , a mobile health app developed by Judy Tan , targets dyadic resources to enhance the health of the individual, based on social-psychological and behavioral evidence indicating that the quality and dynamics of the relationship between the patient and his/her primary partner (e.g., spouse) have profound effects on the patient’s healthcare engagement. LetSync targets dyadic interactions that bolster dyadic resources to help black gay couples living with HIV better engage in care. Read more here.

United Voices: Group singing (i.e., community choir participation) interventions for targeting loneliness, social isolation, and other outcomes of psychosocial health have been linked to decreased loneliness and increased psychosocial wellbeing in mature adults. While a promising intervention, mechanisms of action are unclear, and models will require adaptation and testing among mature adults living with HIV to assess impact on reducing HIV health disparities. The proposed R21 research by Judy Tan will adapt a community choir intervention for mature folks ages 50 or older living with HIV in a pilot waitlist controlled trial that will evaluate feasibility and acceptability. If found efficacious, United Voices will be the first intervention for mature folks living with HIV to harness the “social cure” for HIV stigma to improve psychosocial wellbeing among mature folks living with HIV. 
Assistant Professor, PhD

Adaptation of CRUSH to Sacramento County as part of the Ending the HIV Epidemic . Sacramento’s Zero Together Coalition (ZTC), Kim Koester and other researchers from the University of California, San Francisco are collaborating to identify, through qualitative research, how to best culturally tailor a proven-effective sexual health services delivery model called CRUSH (Connecting Resources for Urban Sexual Health) to better meet the needs of racial and ethnic minorities most impacted by HIV in Sacramento County. Based on the Proctor Model, a robust implementation science approach will assess barriers and facilitators to implementation of an adaptation of CRUSH, focusing on PrEP. This planning study, allows development of locally-tailored implementation strategies to increase PrEP uptake and prepares to test an effectiveness-implementation trial of CRUSH among young men of color who have sex with men in Sacramento County. Read more here .

Opportunities to Improve Syphilis Partner Services. In San Francisco, early syphilis rates increased from 109.9 to 165.4 per 100,000 during 2012-2017, while traditional metrics for measuring success in syphilis partner services (PS) declined. Kimberly Koester and colleagues , including San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH), conducted a qualitative study to identify opportunities to improve syphilis partner services. Eight disease intervention specialists (DIS) and 36 men who have sex with men (MSM) recently diagnosed with early syphilis participated in in-depth interviews. DIS and clients affirmed the importance of client “priming” by the diagnosing provider and the potential for SFDPH to facilitate greater levels of cooperation and quicker rapport-building with clients was confirmed. Attitudes about the practice of self-notification differed among DIS and MSM. SFDPH will implement key study recommendations.
Assistant Professor, PhD, MPH

An Intervention to Increase Retention in Care among HIV-Positive Black Men. Ending the HIV epidemic requires that we achieve viral suppression and reduce HIV transmissibility for groups that are disproportionately affected, such as Black men who have sex with men (BMSM). As such, retention in HIV care is key. However, critical barriers to retention in care for HIV+ BMSM (BMSM+) have not been sufficiently addressed. Will Vincent and colleagues , granted a K23 award, are developing an intervention that combines in-person approaches with two-way text messaging. The intervention will be strategic in terms of finding out-of-care BMSM+ where they are likely to present.

Locating and Reaching HIV-Positive Black Men Who Have Sex with Men Who Have Fallen Out of HIV Care. HIV-positive Black men who have sex with men (BMSM+) comprise 1/4 of new HIV infections in the US, reaching 30% prevalence in some cities. Once diagnosed and linked to HIV care, BMSM+ are 40-60% less likely than all other MSM to be retained in care, adhere to antiretroviral treatment (ART), and achieve viral suppression. There is literature on barriers to care for BMSM+, but a dearth of information on how to reach BMSM+ who were linked and later dropped out of care. Will Vincent and colleagues , were awarded a CAPS Innovative Grant and conducted semi-structured interviews with a variety of key informants, including BMSM+ themselves. Study findings are helping to locate and recruit BMSM+ and get them back into care. Findings have also helped to identify opportunities and settings for intervention development.

Identifying Reasons for Late-Diagnosis of HIV: An Academic-Community Partnership to Improve Health Outcomes. I n the United States, nearly a third of persons diagnosed with HIV are diagnosed late, having AIDS at the same time or within one year of their HIV diagnosis. Late diagnosis is associated with greater HIV transmission, morbidity, and mortality. A CFAR RAP grant, awarded to Will Vincent , allows him mentorship from Marguerita Lightfoot . He is working with colleagues to interview late-diagnosed individuals and individuals who are not late-diagnosed to elucidate reasons for late testing and to uncover potential strategies for increasing early HIV detection, the initial step in the HIV continuum of care. We are working in partnership with the Alameda County Public Health Department to examine factors that fuel late HIV diagnosis within a multilevel framework.

Assistant Professor, PhD, DrPH, MA

Mapping to Amplify the Vitality of Engaged Neighborhoods (MAVEN). William Brown, III and Courtney Lyles (PI)  are conducting a study to develop and evaluate an online platform that patients with diabetes or pre-diabetes can use to combine information relevant to their health and healthcare, such as data on diet or blood sugar levels, and community data on health resources in their neighborhood. Researchers are designing the platform with community members and health advocates, and will test the platform to see how individuals use it in everyday life. Racially/ethnically and socioeconomically diverse individuals are being recruited to ensure translation to broad and vulnerable populations. The study is mid-recruitment.

Smartphone App for Early Detection of Prescription Opioid Misuse. William Brown, III is leading a study to develop a smartphone app for early detection of prescription opioid misuse (POM) to inform and improve physician drug screenings with patients. The app will algorithmically assess patients’ POM in real-time and inform primary care physicians (PCP’s) via the electronic health record (EHR). The goal is to influence PCP’s to follow-up with patients, conduct more frequent POM assessments, and intervene earlier. The app could potentially improve POM screening, reduce risk of drug addiction, and improve patient health outcomes. The study is pre-recruitment.

William Brown III alongside Dr. Lauren Patrick , launched the CODE Lab https://code.ucsf.edu whose mission is to help researchers and healthcare workers create a  Learning Health System  by leveraging New Media.
UCSF DPS Awarded CDC PRC Funding
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded $18.7 million to 25 academic institutions to be a Prevention Research Center (PRC),  including the UCSF Division of Prevention Science (DPS) . PRCs are leaders at the scientific forefront of translating and implementing evidence-based programs. To learn more about the CDC PRC program visit   www.cdc.gov/prc To learn more about the UCSF DPS PRC visit: https://prevention.ucsf.edu/about/prc .
The 2019 Chancellor Award for LGBTQI Leadership - Susan Kegeles, PhD

"I think Susan's greatest gfit to the UCSF community is the ability to combine her heart, mind and spirit all in one package, and when you do that, the impact is going to be so much greater." - Greg Rebchook , Associate Adjunct Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Prevention Science.
The 23rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020) will take place July 6-10, 2020 in Oakland and San Francisco. AIDS 2020 is the world’s largest gathering on HIV and AIDS and serves as a forum at the intersection of science, advocacy, and human rights. Find the calendar for upcoming local planning meetings here.

Welcome to our new DPS staff. Azzie Ngo is working with Jae Sevelius on the It Takes Two and Healthy Divas projects. Welcome to Ezra Kinzer , our new result assistant on Akua Gyamerah's Ghana MSM project.
The mission of Center for AIDS Prevention Studies is to end the HIV epidemic and associated health and social disparities by conducting high impact HIV prevention science and building capacity among researchers and communities to effectively address HIV.  Project #: 2P30MH062246
The mission of the UCSF Prevention Research Center is to maintain an interdependent network of community, academic, and public health partners to design and implement prevention research aimed at answering significant and innovative HIV research questions and promoting the wide use of practices proven to promote health for those infected and affected by HIV.  Project #: 5U48DP004998