Revolutionizing Research – Pushing Medicine Forward With Pride

Banner: Revolutionizing HIV Medical Research

Paraphrased from an episode of Charting Queer Health entitled “Revolutionizing Research with Pride

Before you pop your next PrEP pill or even your next Tylenol, pause a moment and think of all the resources, time, and research that it took to get that pill into your hand safely. If you think about any medication you can get at a pharmacy, it had to go through a strict process to ensure the safety and efficacy of the drug before it could be legally dispensed to you.

At Howard Brown Health, we pride ourselves on being on the cutting edge of vital HIV medical research. Our Research Department and our patients play a significant part in researching, trialing, and ultimately advancing the technology behind the life-saving medications that people use every day. We do this by partnering with universities and major pharmaceutical companies like ViiVGilead, and Merck. And that long list of symptoms that are listed off at the end of drug commercials? We help provide the data that adds to that list.

Within Howard Brown Health, the Research Department is part of the Center for Education, Research, and Advocacy (ERA). Our team is made up of four investigators, who work full-time with our clinical trials, plus several sub-investigators who lend us their time and talent when available, purely because they care about the work we are doing. They’re nurses and providers who moonlight with us here in Research because of what we can offer their patients. They’re people like Dr. William Kvasnicka, Dr. Zach Long, Dr. Kathya Chartre, and more. And overseeing it all from a medical standpoint, we have Dr. Cathy Creticos, who is my Principal Investigator and Medical Director of Clinical Research. 

Pharmaceutical companies will approach us to trial their HIV medications because they know and trust Howard Brown Health and Dr. Creticos, and our reputation for decades of excellent work with HIV care and medical research. They trust us to invite patients to trial their new medicines because we have our community’s best interests at heart.  

Logistically, they’ll approach us with a new medication, a list of patient requirements, and a timeframe. Dr. Creticos and I sit down together and determine whether or not the study is well-suited for us. We don’t just take any offer, it must be a good fit for our patients. We evaluate the cost, the number of patients we could see participating, and together we work out all the details. If it all looks good, we begin offering the treatment to patients. From start to finish, these medical trials can last several years. 

Through it all, our priority is patient safety. Most commonly, the treatments we are proposing to our patients are innovations in medicine that will make their lives better. It may mean they only have to take one pill a day instead of eight to manage their HIV. It might mean drastically reducing the amount of time they spend in a doctor’s office. Because of that, our patients tend to be eager to participate. Not to mention they are compensated for their time and efforts.  

When a patient is participating in a clinical trial, every single aspect of their health is closely examined. Even if it may seem unrelated, every new symptom or problem is examined and treated. As a result, our clinical trial patients receive incredible custom healthcare that allows us to provide quality data and advance the limits of medicine. We provide case management resources too! Can’t get to your appointment? We’ll schedule an Uber. How’s your nutrition? If a medication says, “take with food” but a patient has inconsistent access to food – well, that is going to be a problem. So my team helps with all those other social determinants of health issues as well.  

The key to making all this work is trust. Our patients must trust us when we say that we believe this new medicine or treatment would be good for them. Especially when you consider that many patients have been historically marginalized and discriminated against in other healthcare settings. Our providers have to take all that history and say, “Just trust me with this.” It’s only because of the incredible care that they provide that patients are willing to take that chance.  

All of these parts make for a win-win situation all around: drug companies gain valuable research and approval for their medications, our patients receive excellent care and have their lives improved, and we gain crucial funding that allows us to continue the good work we do every day.  

One development in HIV medical research that we’re participating in now that I’m especially excited about is a trial for an infusion to manage HIV in a brand-new way. Like the way someone might receive chemotherapy, in this trial people living with HIV receive an infusion of their medications once a year. They receive this infusion, and then they don’t have to worry about managing their HIV for the rest of their year.

I have a friend right now that is a patient of Howard Brown Health who received their HIV diagnosis in the 90’s. Back then, they had to take close to 20 pills a day. To go from 20 pills a day to just one infusion a year? That is groundbreaking innovation that will change the way our society looks at HIV. And our patients at Howard Brown Health are a vital part of that change.

If you’re a patient here at Howard Brown Health or elsewhere that would like to get involved with medical trials, you can always visit to see if your condition or treatment might qualify. That way, you can understand your options and bring them up with your provider.  


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
This site is not optimized for Internet Explorer. Please consider viewing the site in a modern browser such as Edge, Chrome or Firefox.