Claremont graduate Lauren Garcia (M.A., 2004) is wrestling with the many issues surrounding HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles through her work at AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA). AIDS Project Los Angeles is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by HIV disease, reducing the incidence of HIV infection, and advocating for fair and effective HIV-related public policy. As part of APLA’s Community-Based Research Team--which provides culturally, linguistically, and gender appropriate research--Lauren is currently coordinating two informative studies. Both studies fall under the Network for AIDS Research in Los Angeles (NARLA), a collaboration of four institutions: UCLA CARE Center, AIDS Project Los Angeles, Friends Research Inc., and T.H.E (To Help Everyone) Clinic.
In the first study, NARLA is looking at perceptions of clinical trials and gene therapy as a treatment for HIV/AIDS. The second NARLA study looks at HIV preventive methods and more specifically assesses factors that affect enrollment in a research registry for participation in clinical trials of microbicides in diverse populations at high risk for HIV.
The potential impact of this work cannot be understated. “If stem cells work to treat HIV, this could have huge implications for the field.” Further, preventing the transmission of HIV is equally important. Lauren and her colleagues are also trying to enroll in the projects as diverse a group as possible in terms of gender, race and sexual orientation, to help determine who is more willing to enroll in preventative and treatment programs.