With his first R01 award, Russell Brewer, DrPH, MPH, aims to increase access to HIV services and improve employment-related outcomes for criminal legal involved Black men who have sex with men (BMSM) in Illinois and Louisiana. Brewer is a research professor at the University of Chicago Department of Medicine, director of health equity research and southern initiatives at the Chicago Center for HIV Elimination, and new co-director of the Behavioral, Social, and Implementation Sciences (BSIS) Core of the Third Coast Center for AIDS Research.

“This R01 represents a critical and longstanding collaboration between academic, community, and correctional partners in Illinois and Louisiana. It honors our commitment to addressing the social determinants of health and our dedication to implementing status neutral or whole person approaches to HIV care and prevention designed to meet the needs of criminal legal involved BMSM, regardless of their HIV status.”

Russell Brewer

BMSM with a history of incarceration are particularly vulnerable to HIV and often experience delayed uptake and benefits from available HIV services. Status neutral interventions are critical to overcoming access to care and employment barriers experienced by this population. Brewer’s project will provide vital information about addressing the employment and career development needs of criminal legal involved BMSM, which is crucial to the successful uptake and sustained use of HIV services post release.

Russell Brewer
Russell Brewer, DrPH, MPH

Over the last six years, Brewer has been the recipient of several CFAR supplements which have helped him establish new HIV research projects. Data gathered from Brewer’s 2019 CFAR administrative supplement, Preparing for Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Scale-Out in Criminal Justice Settings, provided the necessary pilot research for his first R01 award, J-RISE: Relevant Implementation Strategies to Eliminate the Social and Structural Barriers to HIV Services Among Justice-Involved Black Men Who Have Sex With Men. In addition, mentorship from CFAR’s Development Core leaders has given Brewer essential research development skills for funding opportunities.

“The support provided by the CFAR such as the mock review of my J-RISE proposal was instrumental in developing a competitive proposal that was eventually funded by the NIH,” said Brewer.

There are several co-investigators on Brewer’s five-year, $1.2 million project from the National Institute of Mental Health. They include John Schneider, MD, University of Chicago; Michelle Johns, PhD, Sarah Hodge, MPH, and David Rein, PhD, NORC; and Patrick Janulis, PhD, Northwestern University. Key community and correctional partners include Chad Zawitz, MD, Cermak Health Services and John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County and CORE Center; Gjvar Payne, Capitol Area Reentry Program, Inc.; Louise Bienvenu, JD, and Penny DeNoble, MA, Frontline Legal Services; and Mark Misrok, MS, National Working Positive Coalition.