Prof. S. Raquel Ramos receives NIH grant to use eHealth technology to prevent HIV-related comorbidities in at-risk sexual minority men

September 05, 2019

S. Raquel Ramos, PhD, MBA, MSN, FNP-BC, assistant professor at NYU Meyers, was awarded a K01 Mentored Career Development Award by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health. The five-year, $809,000 award will support training and research on using a virtual environment to prevent HIV-related comorbidities in at-risk sexual minority men.

“It is well documented that persons living with HIV are at higher risk of developing comorbidities at an earlier life stage than those who are not living with HIV. By 2030, 78 percent of persons living with HIV will be diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Without proper lifestyle and behavior modifications, the prevalence of HIV-related comorbidities will only increase,” said Ramos.

The NHLBI grant will fund Ramos’ training and development in three areas: cardiovascular disease prevention in sexual minority men, virtual environment theory and design, and advanced research design methods using innovative analytic approaches.

The K01 will also fund a randomized wait-list control feasibility trial with 80 adult sexual minority men living with HIV. Ramos will test the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effects of a virtual environment to address prevention of HIV-related cardiovascular disease comorbidities through behavioral and psychosocial outcomes.

“While this type of technology has been applied effectively in diabetes and other chronic diseases, the ways in which virtual environments can be used to facilitate knowledge and health-promoting behaviors for preventing HIV-related comorbidities in sexual minority men of color has not been studied,” said Ramos.

“Historical individual and structural-level barriers, such as perceived racism, sexual orientation discrimination, and healthcare provider discrimination have hindered advancement in this area. So, by using a virtual environment, we can provide an accessible and anonymous platform to reach underserved and at-risk populations,” added Ramos. “This award will support research that will contribute to an important shift in the field for HIV-related comorbidity prevention in sexual minority men of color and provide the foundation for a larger clinical trial.”