Advocates Archive - G
[please choose the first initial of the Advocate's last name]
Luis Fernando Galarza
"We need more choices to fight against HIV."
Luis works with Fundación Ecuatoriana Equidad, a non-governmental organization in Ecuador that works for human rights, and the health and social welfare of the GLBTI Community. Equidad is collaborating on the new iPrEx OLE trial (the open-label extension of the original iPrx study), and Luis is the site study coordinator for Guayaquil.
He said of the project: "This trial and the great staff behind it has been for me the best opportunity I had to learn all I know so far about the serious and important clinical research world." He also offers counseling services related to HIV testing and risk reduction.
Luis was introduced to IRMA by a colleague in Lima, Peru - Steve Miralles of IRMA-ALC, IRMA's South American sister which is working to expand rectal microbicide and PrEP advocacy in the region. He is collaborating with IRMA-ALC, and is very excited about the possibilities in rectal microbicides, because "the alarming numbers of new HIV Infections around the world are telling us that new prevention strategies and technologies are extremely necessary, and rectal microbicides could be an excellent option."
In his free time, Luis enjoys being with his friends, family and partner. When alone he loves to garden, with his flowers and his two dogs to keep him company.
[Posted August 2011]
IRMA Steering Committee Member
"My involvement in IRMA and rectal microbicides was somewhat accidental. Though I started working in HIV prevention it 1992, it was a new position in 2003 where I had the opportunity to work on a rectal health and behaviors study. I had heard of microbicides before that, in the 1990’s, but they were always talked about in strictly “vaginal” terms; I had not thought about rectal microbicides. The idea of having another HIV prevention tool for all people who have anal sex just makes sense."
Jerry believes that people will use different HIV prevention methods at different times and in different combinations. In terms of HIV, the more options available for prevention, the better.One of his frustrations with HIV prevention research is that anything “anal” or “rectal” is still taboo. It is clear that the realm of microbicide research is no exception by the way organizations fail to include rectal microbicides on their research agenda. Jerome’s commitment rests on his belief that advocacy is one of the most essential components to the success of rectal microbicides. Developing a rectal microbicide and making it available to people everywhere is necessary to have a serious impact on preventing new HIV infections.
Aside from a rectal microbicide advocate, Jerry is also interested in gay men’s health from a cultural and empowerment approach, especially in Latin America where he is working to open Peru’s first gay men’s center. When he finds the time, he likes to travel, drink good coffee, and spend time with his partner and their two “kids” – a weiner dog and a cat.
[posted March 2008 - UPDATE: read Jerry's blog post from November 4, 2009 - Finding the IRMA Advocate Within]
San Francisco, California
"It took us more than 30 years to realize that there is not one unique strategy to prevent HIV acquisition, and that combination prevention is key, and rectal microbicides must be part of the prevention toolbox."
Originally from Lima, Peru, Pedro is in charge of communications and community relations for the iPrEx OLE study, the open-label continuation of the iPrEx trial. iPrEx is the study that showed daily oral use of the ARV drug Truvada among gay men, other men who have sex with men (MSM), and transgender women worked to prevent HIV.
He enjoys his work because of the invaluable opportunities it provides for him to meet interesting people who are working really hard on finding ways to stop this epidemic. He takes pride in the sensitivity his team shows to community members and for highlighting their needs with scientists and stakeholders. Besides iPrEx OLE, Pedro also just finished a couple of other projects related to the feasibility of voluntary circumcision for HIV prevention in gay men and other MSM, and neonatal male circumcision for HIV prevention, in the jungles of Peru.
In his spare time Pedro loves to ride his bike. He enjoys "having destinations that I reach through the effort of pedaling." Pedro's biggest life influence was his mother, but he is also blessed to be surrounded by excellent people that have been an inspiration. In addition, he has lost several friends to HIV and this motivated him to do something about it.
He was introduced to rectal microbicides and IRMA when he met IRMA chair Jim Pickett through IRMA steering committee member and IRMA-ALC co-founder Jerome Galea. He believes that any strategy to help end the epidemic is useful and thinks that rectal microbicides are an important prevention technology because anal sex is the primary mode of HIV transmission among gay men and other MSM, and that women practice anal sex more than is reported or fully understood.
Pedro has played an important role on the soon-to-be-released IRMA video ("The Rectal Revolution is Here: An Introduction to Rectal Microbicide Clinical Trials") being developed in partnership with the Microbicide Trials Network and Population Council. He is part of the team's Video Advisory Committee and has provided invaluable feedback on content and messaging. He also worked closely on the focus groups (especially those conducted in Lima, Peru) which were designed and implemented to test the "rough cut" of the video with different populations to help ensure the proper messages are coming through. He says it has been a very inspirational expereince and he is really looking forward to see the final release. IRMA plans to release the final version of the video in early September, 2012.
Thanks Pedro, for all that you do!
[Posted July 15, 2012]
Dr. Pamina Gorbach
Los Angeles, USA
Pamina Gorbach is a behavioral epidemiologist who focuses her research on the risky behaviors that expose individuals to STIs/HIV and on the social context of sexual health among other topics.
Pamina has several concurrent research projects. The first is a longitudinal study of men recently infected with HIV and their sexual partners. Another is an epidemiological study of men’s and women’s rectal health and behaviors and a study of rectal applicator acceptability as part of the UCLA Microbicide Development Program (U19).
Her interest in rectal health and microbicide development contributed to her involvement with IRMA, as she has been an active member of the Steering Committee. She states, “I feel there is a critical need for a prevention method specifically for anal intercourse, a behavior that carries an elevated risk of HIV transmission. As this is an indisputably common practice for many men AND women, rectal microbicides offer a very promising new prevention option, and I believe people will use them, and like them!”
In early 2007, UCLA began actively enrolling for the world’s first rectal microbicide safety trial. Gorbach’s team of researchers also helped with the studies mentioned in IRMA’s publication “Less Silence, More Science.” At the 17th International AIDS Conference in Mexico Cit her group helped analyze the data that was showcased in a poster presentation titled, "International Lubricant Use Behaviours for Anal Intercourse - Focus on Women."
The Johns Hopkins trained Gorbach is currently an Associate Professor at UCLA at the School of Public Health and at the School of Medicine. Dr. Gorbach serves as a member of the Behavioral Research Committee of the Microbicides Trial Network.
Gorbach is a big fan of traveling for leisure and for her professional work. Her incredible international experience includes research in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic Peru, Cambodia, Vietnam, Mali, Malawi, and Ghana.
[Posted August 2008]