Kempf part of $15M grant to study HIV acquisition among women

Photo of Mirjam-Colette Kempf

By Pareasa Rahimi

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing Professor Mirjam-Colette Kempf, PhD, MPH, is a Co-Principal Investigator of a $15 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study HIV vulnerability among cisgender women.

Kempf, along with other Co-Principal Investigators Rebecca Schnall, PhD, MPH, FAAN, FACMI, from Columbia School of Nursing in New York and Amy Johnson, PhD, at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago received the award from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The five-year project, “Examining Social Ecological and Network Factors to Assess Epidemiological Risk in a Large National Cohort of Cisgender Women,” will enroll a national digital cohort of 1,800 HIV-negative women and investigate how multiple factors impact the risk of acquiring HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

“I am excited to be working among this team of investigators to better understand women’s vulnerabilities to HIV acquisition,” Kempf said. “Looking at factors beyond individual level factors, which have failed to understand women’s vulnerabilities to HIV acquisition, will have the potential to build a knowledge base that will help us in the development of effective prevention programs for women in the future.”

Kempf’s previous research has focused on HIV health services and outcomes research with particular emphasis on psychosocial barriers of access to care and health care disparities among women living with HIV in the rural south. Most recently, she received a seven-year $20.6 million National Institutes of Health grant to study the impact of chronic health conditions that affect people living with HIV.

“Cisgender women account for approximately 20% of annual HIV diagnoses in the United States, yet there is limited information on the combination of factors that contribute to HIV incidence in these women,” Schnall said. “At the conclusion of our study, we hope to identify the individual, social network, geospatial, and public policy factors that increase a women’s risk for HIV and/or sexually transmitted infection acquisition, providing intervention opportunities to reduce women’s vulnerabilities to HIV infection.”

The UAB School of Nursing ranks No. 2 among public schools of nursing and No. 5 overall for National Institutes of Health research funding, as ranked by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research.

Kempf is the most highly funded investigator in the School according to Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship Marie Bakitas, DNSc, NP-C, AOCN, ACHPN, FAAN.

“Dr. Kempf’s leadership in national HIV studies has been groundbreaking in discovery, practice and policy,” Bakitas said. “Her focus on growing the science in concert with her mentorship in growing the next generation of scientists is an equally important quality of her work that brings such value to our School.”

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