Reyna Ortiz, Hale Thompson, PhD, and John Schneider, MD, MPH came together with other CFAR investigators and their community partners at the Inter-CFAR Transgender Health Working Group’s research meeting on March 3-4, 2023, in Chapel Hill, NC.
The inaugural in-person meeting, which was held at the University of North Carolina, aimed to advance trans-inclusive research with community engagement. Meeting sessions covered four main topic areas:
- Identifying shared research priorities,
- Building capacity for effective community-academic partnership,
- Increasing inclusion and engagement of transgender, nonbinary, and gender diverse communities in research, and
- Opportunities for Inter-CFAR community-academic research collaboration.
One faculty member from each CFAR across the U.S. and up to two of their community partners were invited to attend the meeting. Reyna Ortiz is the program director at TaskForce Prevention and Community Services, Dr. Thompson is the director of social and behavioral research at Howard Brown Health, and Dr. Schneider is a professor of medicine, epidemiology, and social work at the University of Chicago and member of the Third Coast CFAR Steering Committee.
Dr. Schneider, who is also senior research scientist at Howard Brown Health, describes the varied work that several community partners provide for his clinic’s research.
“Our many community partners are diverse and play different roles in the research,” said Dr. Schneider. “We received a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to help form the Four Corners: Trans and Nonbinary Health Research Advisory Network, which works on developing research from the ground up with community driving the research agenda, data collection, data analysis, and dissemination with the three participating researchers providing support and mentorship. Community partners also play advising and consultant roles on other projects depending upon the project goals and objectives.”
An early-stage investigator, Dr. Thompson is collaborating with Dr. Schneider on the Four Corners project as well as with Dr. Moira McNulty and Dr. Maria Pyra on a Third Coast CFAR EHE pilot study. He is also leading a study at Howard Brown Health, the largest provider of sexual and gender minority care in the Midwest, regarding Black and Latina transfeminine people’s preferences around long-acting forms of PrEP.
Ortiz is currently working on the Trans Accountability Project funded by the Chicago Department of Public Health. The project is in collaboration with Howard Brown Health, Chicago Therapy Collective, and TaskForce to address structural racism and enhance HIV care among transgender women of color.
The meeting provided all three individuals with a wonderful experience to gain more knowledge about community involvement in trans-inclusive research and engage with their peers.
“We had a great time in North Carolina learning and sharing trans-inclusive research in both small and large group discussions,” said Dr. Schneider. “We thank the Inter-CFAR Transgender Health Working Group and the Third Coast CFAR for supporting all three of us to attend the community-engaged research meeting.”