Funded Pilots

Awards were presented for innovative projects that are highly significant for the field. Each awardee has mentors who will offer guidance in the conduct of their studies and bring a broader transdisciplinary perspective to their work.
2023 Pilot Project Awards
Walters, Suzan
NYU Langone Health
A Community-Driven Exploration of PrEP, Harm Reduction, and OPC Service Use among Spanish-Speaking People Who Inject Drugs in NYC

This pilot project aims to address the increasing rates of HIV, overdose and other sequlea among Spanish speaking people who inject drugs (PWID) in New York City. The study will explore barriers and facilitators to PrEP, harm reduction and use of Overdose Prevention Centers (OPCs). Using PhotoVoice, a community-based participatory research method, to capture the experiences, perspectives, and ideas of Spanish speaking PWID. PhotoVoice data will be triangulated with ethnography and a social network inventory.

This project will explore if, how, and why OPCs are social infrastructures that foster social networks. The research is guided by an intersectional risk environment framework, acknowledging the influence of physical, social, economic, and policy domains and intersectional stigmas on the experiences of PWID. It also will explore means of resilience. The findings will inform the development and implementation of strengths base interventions, such as PhotoVoice and/or social network/peer change agent interventions, to reduce intersectional stigma and discrimination and increase resilience. Photos will also be used to raise awareness and advocate for policy changes that promote access to prevention and treatment services.

  • Dustin Duncan, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
  • Mark Padilla, Florida International University
Mgbako, Ofole
NYU Langone Health
A Mixed Methods Study to Understand Sociostructural Predictors of Severe Mpox Outcomes, Intersectional Stigma, and Substance Use Among Patients with Co-Morbid HIV in NYC

This study will explore the effects of substance use, intersectional stigma and other sociostructural predictors of poor outcomes among people diagnosed with HIV and mpox in New York City (NYC). The syndemic nature of HIV and mpox, both disproportionately affecting sexual minority men, requires a deeper understanding of the sociostructural drivers of poor mpox outcomes and the mechanisms by which substance use and intersectional stigma lead to poor outcomes.

This mixed-methods study will use a parallel embedded design to evaluate the bidirectional relationships between substance use, intersectional stigma and mpox/HIV coinfection, and to understand how these factors impact clinical outcomes.

  • Dustin Duncan, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
  • Lisa Bowleg, George Washington University
McKnight, Courtney
NYU School of Global Public Health
Xylazine Test Strip Use and HIV Risk Behaviors Among People Who Inject Drugs

The emergence and increasing prevalence of xylazine in the unregulated drug supply, and particularly the co-use of xylazine and fentanyl, poses multiple threats to the health and safety of people who use drugs. Both xylazine and fentanyl have been shown to independently increase HIV risk behaviors, and fentanyl can accelerate HIV disease. Co-use of xylazine and fentanyl is also complicating substance use treatment and increasing the risk of necrotic skin infections.

This study will assess repeated xylazine use, possible dependence on xylazine and retention of knowledge about xylazine among a cohort of people who inject drugs. It will also explore HIV-related risk behaviors among people who use xylazine, and examine whether the use of xylazine test strips reduces HIV/HCV risk.