NEW YORK and PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 15, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) and New York Blood Center (NYBC), in partnership with local community consulting groups, have received a $769,578 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to embark on designing an awareness program on the usage of the daily oral medication Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), an FDA-approved drug taken by at-risk women to prevent acquisition of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). More than 1.2 million people carry HIV in the United States; at least one in four are women. While PrEP has been shown to prevent HIV acquisition, many people, especially women, do not know this option is available or that it can be combined with other HIV prevention measures. Dr. Anne M. Teitelman, Nursing Associate Professor, and Dr. Beryl A. Koblin, Head of the Laboratory of Infectious Disease Prevention at NYBC, will co-lead the study. They will identify obstacles women face in accessing PrEP and healthcare and will ultimately determine the most effective ways to help raise awareness of available prevention options. The study will focus on women's awareness of PrEP in the Philadelphia and New York metropolitan areas, surveying women's current thoughts and obstacles surrounding PrEP usage. The collected information will help investigators develop a suitable outreach program that women can implement into their daily health regimens. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vast majority (87%) of new HIV infections among women in 2014 were attributed to heterosexual (male/female) sexual contact. In addition, HIV disproportionately affects people of minority groups, with African Americans accounting for 62% of the 2014 diagnoses reported in women. "PrEP has been shown to be an effective HIV prevention method, especially when used in combination with other prevention practices. However, many women who could benefit from PrEP do not even know about it," Dr. Teitelman said. "Our goal for this project is to offer women an opportunity to learn about PrEP so they can decide if it's right for them."