Wednesday 20 February 2019
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URMC Researcher Recruiting Couples for Sexual Health Study


Natalie Leblanc, PhD, MPH, RN, BSN

By Staff –

Dr. Natalie LeBlanc is recruiting Black Heterosexual Couples to participate in a University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) study aimed at preventing HIV in women of color.

LeBlanc, PhD, MPH is an assistant professor of nursing at the URMC. She says there is a disproportionately high HIV infection rates affecting women of color.

“Women account for 20 percent of new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. each year, with the vast majority of those infections occurring in black and Hispanic women. Although they make up 30 percent of the female population, black and Hispanic women comprise 77 percent of all new HIV cases among women,” she noted in a press release.

The study, funded by a $2.16 million grant the University received last year, is aimed at getting participants’ thoughts and suggestions for an online Sexual Health HIV Prevention Toolkit.

“Gender-based social inequalities and men’s control over prevention methods, such as condoms, have traditionally limited the HIV protective options available to women; but there are commercially available and highly effective prevention methods like PrEP that can be independently controlled by women. Yet, only 4 percent of females at high risk of HIV take the drug,” URMC researchers noted.

“We hope to figure out what’s behind that,” Leblanc said, adding “The study is completely confidential and there are no medical risks involved in participating.”

LeBlanc, a graduate of Trinity College (BA), Emory University (MPH), The University of Florida (BS) and the University of Miami (PhD), has a background in the fields of public health, nursing and health research. Her overarching research interests include physiological, social, health service and other environmental factors that contribute to race/ethnic-based health inequity.

“My research interest is focused on sexual health promotion; specifically, my work and practice seeks to contextualize the heightened susceptibility to HIV transmission among vulnerable populations, such as persons of color, women of color including immigrant women,” she noted.

“Our study, conducted in New York City and Rochester, will help to understand the multitude of reasons underlying these disparities and provide evidence to develop tailored HIV prevention interventions and services for women at risk,” explains James McMahon, PhD, the lead investigator.

Other URMC investigators on the grant include Amy Braksmajer, PhD, postdoctoral associate in the School of Nursing; Brent Johnson, PhD, associate professor of biostatistics; LaRon Nelson, PhD, RN, FNP, FNAP, FAAN, assistant professor of nursing, and Chen Zhang, PhD, MPH, postdoctoral associate in the School of Nursing.

For more information concerning this research contact:
Natalie Leblanc
Office Phone: (585) 275-4520;