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PrEP’d and Ready

A Miller School student’s presentation on HIV prevention wowed the audience at the Three-Minute Thesis Competition


fast-paced discussion of how social networks can affect one’s communication and knowledge about preventing HIV earned a Miller School student second place and the audience choice award in the University of Miami Graduate School’s fifth annual Three-Minute Thesis Competition.

Cho-Hee Shrader, a Ph.D. student in prevention science and community health, described her work studying how the social network theory of “homophily” — the way friends and significant others often share similar traits — can affect shared awareness of pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a medicine that can be used to prevent HIV transmission.

This is particularly important in Miami, which is now considered the epicenter of the HIV epidemic for the U.S., Shrader said. The virus is especially prevalent among minorities, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates showing that 20% of Latino gay men and 50% of Black gay men will be diagnosed with HIV by age 50, if current trends persist.

Shrader wants to disrupt that trend by fostering conversations among Latino and Black gay men to make discussing this medicine, called less taboo.

Cho-Hee Shrader

“These conversations — if constructive — can actually destigmatize the virus and save lives,” said Shrader, whose adviser is epidemiologist Mariano Kanamori, Ph.D., assistant professor of prevention science and community health.

Mariano Kanamori, Ph.D.

In all, 10 graduate students competed in the timed lectures, which were broadcast virtually for the first time, summing up months or years of research in just 180 seconds before an audience of nearly 200 in addition to the judges.

“Particularly in this time, when we know that all of us are experiencing different types of hardship and have additional stress, these students really were very courageous and resilient and did a phenomenal job of presenting their dissertation research,” said Guillermo “Willy” Prado, dean of the Graduate School and the University’s vice provost of faculty affairs. “They were able to connect with the audience, and they were able to translate their research to a lay audience very effectively, which is one of the goals of this competition.”

If you missed the Graduate School’s 2021 Three-Minute Thesis Competition, you can watch a recording of the event on YouTube.