Undergraduate Director of Public Health
School of Medicine's Center for Healthy Communities
University of California, Irvine
Dr. Brandon Brown is the Undergraduate Director of Public Health at University of California Irvine's Center for Healthy Communities, where his efforts are spent in both education and research. He teaches several courses, including ethics and responsible conduct of research in public health, international epidemiology, and advances in global health. He also serves as the director of undergraduate education, chair of the curriculum committee, director of the global health infrastructure development program, and is a clinical research ethicist. Brandon received his MPH from UCLA and his PhD in International Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the Global Disease Epidemiology and Control program. His dissertation titled ‘HPV prevalence and risk factors among female sex workers (FSWs) in Peru’ has yielded four peer review publications, with another five articles in preparation. Dr. Brown completed Postdoctoral studies at UCLA in the Global HIV/AIDS Prevention Research program, and in the UCSD Global Public Health program.
Brandon has worked on projects in Peru for over 7 years, and is currently Principal or Co-Investigator on 6 HIV focused or related studies in Peru and Mexico. These projects include vaccine acceptability, building clinic infrastructure, studies of comorbidity of HIV with HPV, examining behaviors related to HPV infection, estimating HPV prevalence in developing countries, conducting interventions for cervical cancer prevention, recruitment and retention of high risk groups in clinical trials, and studies of STIs affecting FSWs and MSM. Dr. Brown is very interested is the topic of international research ethics, and works closely with the University of Cayetano Heredia in Peru. He hopes to begin a program training international scholars in research ethics at UC Irvine. A topic of particular interest is undue inducement in clinical studies of HIV in developing countries with vulnerable populations.
Mentored Research Project (MRP) Title
Voluntary study participation in a clinical trial of HPV vaccine with Peruvian FSWs
Aims:This qualitative study examined Peruvian female sex workers’ (FSWs) evaluation of socialand health risks/benefits, informed consent, incentives, fair treatment, and post-trial care following their participation in an HPV vaccine phase IV clinical trial (GIRASOL), in which allparticipants received quadrivalent HPV vaccine.
Methods: Sixteen FSWs aged 23-29 years from Lima, Peru who previously enrolled in the GIRASOL trial were administered semi-structured interviews to assess perceptions of studyparticipation. Interviews were conducted in Spanish, audio-recorded, transcribed, andtranslated into English. Transcripts were coded in Atlas.ti using open and axial coding. Codes were collapsed, combined, and developed into concepts and representative quotes.
Results: Broad themes emerging from content analysis included respect, privacy, absence ofstigma, access to healthcare, and abandonment. Most participants reported staff treated them with empathy, fairness, and dignity, that participation provided protection from cancer and an opportunity to privately receive quality sexual health care, they were well prepared by consent procedures, participation was voluntary, and incentives were appropriate. Of note, one participant responded, “If nothing else, they always treated me as a human”. Unexpectedly, some experienced desertion when the study ended.
Conclusions: Participants were generally content with all aspects of the study and emphasized its protective and non-coercive attributes. They expressed gratitude for the professional treatment despite normalized stigma regarding their FSW status. Further work may be neededto reduce feelings of abandonment. Researchers may also need to develop navigation plans to properly transition participants out of research projects once studies have ended.
Brown, B., Blas, M. M., Heidari, O., Carcamo, C., & Halsey, N. A. (2013). Reported changes in sexual behavior and human papillomavirus knowledge in Peruvian female sex workers following participation in a human papillomavirus vaccine trial. International Journal of STD & AIDS, 24(7), 531-535.
Brown, B., Davtyan, M., & Fisher, C.B. (2015). "Peruvian female sex workers’ ethical perspectives on their participation in an HPV vaccine clinical trial". Ethics & Behavior, 25(2): 115-128.
Brown B, Galea JT, Davidson P, Khoshnood K. Transparency of participant incentives in HIV research. Lancet HIV 2016; 3(10): e456-7.