Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Rutgers Dean Receives Grant to Research HPV and HSV Infections in Sexual Minority Men

Rutgers School of Public Health Dean, Dr. Perry N. Halkitis, along with colleagues at New York University, have been awarded $2,332,735 (R01AI132020) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to study Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) in sexual minority men.

HPV and HSV infections account for significant deaths in young, gay, bisexual, and other sexual minority men or men who have sex with men (YMSM). HPV is associated with oral, oropharyngeal, and anal cancers and a growing body of research suggests racial disparities in HIV burden may be partially attributed to HSV infection. The study will generate critically needed data on viral sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in a racially/ethnically and socioeconomically diverse sample and will provide further insights on the potential for HPV, HSV-1, and HSV-2 to influence HIV transmission. A highly innovative aspect of this study is that it will explore HPV risk in HIV positive individuals.

“This work is both timely and essential. Too often, solely HIV defines the health of sexual minority men, but the population faces myriad health disparities, which this study will allow us to further investigate. A very unique aspect of the work will be our examination of whether anal HPV infection may increase HIV acquisition risk via localized HPV-related immune activation. All of this work has enormous implications for our ongoing efforts to vaccinate youth against HPV and speaks to a pronounced need for these efforts in sexual minority men, particular HIV positive sexual minority men, who are increasingly presenting with anal cancer” said Dr. Halkitis.

The newly funded research will expand on Dr. Halkitis’ ongoing NIH research (R01DA025537) by incorporating HPV and HSV testing and examining the multiple determinants of these infections in an existing cohort. Dr. Halktis is a Multiple Principal Investigator of the study along with Drs. Danielle Ompad and Farzana Kapadia at NYU.