Monday, October 20, 2008

Meet Gail, a Friendly Rectal Microbicide Advocate

Gail Broder
Seattle, USA
“HIV researchers need to be seeking as many different prevention strategies as possible to meet the needs of the widest range of people around the world.”

Originally from Detroit, Gail now calls Seattle home. She works as a community education project manager with the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN). She provides support, technical assistance, and training for community educators and recruiters who work at US clinical trial sites that are part of HVTN. Gail also provides support for the sites' Community Advisory Boards (CABs), and helps to ensure that there is community involvement in every aspect of the HVTN's operations. She was initially brought to IRMA through her connections with IRMA chairs Jim Pickett and Marc-Andre LeBlanc and has kept up to date with the Global Campaign for Microbicides for years now. Having made many friends with GCM staff, she has also been privileged to co-present with them on several occasions.

Gail believes that ALL biomedical prevention technologies are important. One of the lessons she has learned from microbicide advocates is that a cue has to be taken from the family planning folks. “When women are given a variety of options for birth control, they are more likely to find an option that meets their needs, whether that need deals with cost, ease of use, access to the product, etc. Similarly, HIV researchers need to be seeking as many different prevention strategies as possible to meet the needs of the widest range of people around the world.” When Gail is working in vaccine research, she says that she knows finding a vaccine is still a long term goal. In the shorter term, however, she hopes that finding an effective microbicide will give people another tool to keep themselves safe and fight against HIV.

When educating others, Gail always points out the importance of having many tools that can be used before the point of transmission, during the risk behavior when transmission may occur, and after transmission. Rectal or vaginal microbicides could be used before exposure, but in closer proximity when one is having sex. She often uses an idea learned at a conference several years ago: ABC is a nice place to start, but we also need CNN and MTV! (Condom distribution, Needle exchange, Negotiation of safer behaviors, and Microbicide research, Treatment research, Vaccine research). This helps people to think about "combination prevention", which is comparable to "combination therapy" for people already infected.

Gail’s first degree was music, so it’s no surprise that in her free time she sings in a semi-professional choir and for her synagogue. She is active in the Jewish community, especially around social justice issues. She is an avid reader, and you can often find her curled up with a good book and glass of wine.

Check out more Friendly Rectal Microbicide Advocates here.

Do you want to share YOUR story as a Friendly Rectal Microbicide Advocate? Send IRMA an email and we will make it happen!

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