Check out this interesting mini-bio of Ben Perkins, the latest in IRMA’s “Meet a Friendly Rectal Microbicide Advocate” series on the IRMA website here.  Ben is one of the six new bios just posted the other day, including individuals from Thailand, Kenya and the US.  Each will be featured on the blog, and you can read all of them here right now.

Ben Perkins
Boston, Massachusetts

“Always remember that prevention takes place within a socioecological context, and that no matter how effective the biomedical intervention, if we don’t respect this context, the prevention modality is doomed to fail.”

Ben is the Associate Director for Community Engagement at the Fenway Institute at Fenway Health in Boston. Outside of work, Ben enjoys running, cooking, and reading non-fiction.

Ben first got involved with IRMA through IRMA chair Jim Pickett. He asserts that rectal microbicides are important among new HIV prevent technologies because men and women require a variety of tools when engaging in their sexual lives.

Ben advises IRMA to “remember that rectal health discussions should be far more comprehensive than HIV prevention—HPV, for example, is an increasing cause for concern. Thus, IRMA needs to insist that rectal health should be part of a holistic approach to health and wellness.”

He has played an important role on the soon-to-be-released IRMA video (“The Rectal Revolution is Here: An Introduction to Rectal Microbicide Clinical Trials”) being developed in partnership with the Microbicide Trials Network and Population Council. He is part of the team’s Video Advisory Committee and has provided invaluable feedback on content and messaging. He also worked closely on the focus groups (especially those conducted in Boston) which were designed and implemented to test the “rough cut” of the video with different populations to help ensure the proper messages are coming through.

Currently, Ben is investigating the role of racial discrimination in medication adherence for HIV-positive black gay men and other men who have sex with men. and is working with a community coalition on a structural intervention for at-risk adolescents called Connect to Protect.

Ben is also part of the Fenway team working on the MTN-017 trial, the very first Phase II expanded safety and acceptability trial in the rectal microbicide field which will have sites in the U.S. (Boston, San Francisco and Pittsburgh) as well as international sites in Lima, Peru; Cape Town, South Africa; and two Thai sites – Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The U.S. sites will begin enrolling later in 2012, and the international sites will start up in early 2013. HIV-negative gay men, other men who have sex with men, and transgender women will be asked to volunteer.

Coming out as a gay man had the biggest influence on Ben’s life. It continues to be a process, and still challenges him in every area of life.

Thank you, Ben, for all you do!

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