Sam Marquez ’16 Writes Policy Brief for Transgender Women and PrEP Prophylaxis for HIV

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Samantha “Sam” Marquez ’16MSW has written a policy brief — Transgender Women and Pre-Exposure (PrEP) Prophylaxis: What We Know and What We Still Need to Know — with Sean Cahill, Ph.D., director of Health Policy Research at the Fenway Institute.Samantha “Sam” Marquez ’16MSW has written a policy brief — Transgender Women and Pre-Exposure (PrEP) Prophylaxis: What We Know and What We Still Need to Know — with Sean Cahill, Ph.D., director of Health Policy Research at the Fenway Institute. This publication contributes to the policy initiatives at Fenway Health for the National Center for Innovation in HIV Care and is extremely critical to the development of PrEP prevention strategies for transgender women around the world.

Dr. Wade Taylor, Wheelock College chair of the Master of Social Work program and assistant professor of social work — and Sam’s field supervisor — facilitated the opportunity for her to engage in the writing process. The M.S.W. curriculum at Wheelock includes developing skills that align with “Core Competencies,” one of which engages with matters of policy to promote the advancement of human rights and social justice.

Initially, Sam reviewed the research a previous intern had collected on the use of PrEP with transgender women, expanded upon it to include more recent studies and recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and then wrote a literature review. Over time, and after several rounds of editing with Sean and contributors from both within and beyond Fenway Health, Sam and Dr. Cahill developed a policy brief that included an overview of the empirical literature, described current guidelines regarding PrEP use and transgender women, and provided recommendations for researchers and policymakers who work with this at-risk population.

Sam says: “Overall, the experience of researching and crafting a document that has the potential to bring about policy change for this underserved population was incredibly rewarding. My time spent working with Sean also has highlighted the importance of developing rhetoric that contributes to awareness of tools for HIV prevention. Health-focused policy plays an integral role in the advancement of human rights and social justice, and the creation of such work is a task that Fenway Health embraces wholeheartedly.”