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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Microbicide?
Microbicides are products designed to prevent or reduce the sexual transmission of HIV or other sexually transmitted infections when applied on the inside of the vagina, or in this case, the rectum. They can be formulated in many ways, such as a gel or cream, or as a ring that would release the active ingredient(s) over time. Several microbicide products are being tested in clinical trials, including trials conducted by the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN), although none are yet approved or available for use.

What is Project Gel?
Project Gel is a federally-funded clinical research study that is being conducted at three sites in the United States, including: The University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA), Fenway Health (Boston, MA), and the University of Puerto Rico (San Juan, PR).

Why is This Study Being Conducted?
There are three main purposes of this study. In Part 1, the main purpose is to find out more about the sexual health of young men who have sex with men, including how common sexually transmitted infections are among this group of men. In Part 2, the main purpose is to find out how young men feel about using a gel in their rectum prior to anal sex and whether or not they actually use it prior to anal sex. The gel in Part 2 is a placebo gel, meaning it does not have any medicine in it. In Part 3, the main purpose is to find out if a gel with medicine (a microbicide gel) is safe to use and to learn how men feel about using a microbicide gel in their rectum.

Who Can Participate?
Are you 18-30 years old? A man who has sex with men? Willing to be tested for HIV? If you answered yes to all of these questions, then you may be eligible to participate in Project Gel!

Why Should I Participate in Project Gel?
HIV infections are increasing worldwide (5 million/year), with 63% of all HIV/AIDS cases in the U.S. in gay and bisexual men. New strategies are needed to prevent HIV infection. Microbicides are being studied as new ways to prevent HIV infection.

Why Can't People Just Use Condoms?
Condoms are effective, but not always available, not always used, and often break or slip if used incorrectly. Rectal microbicides could be discreetly used by tops and bottoms who don't have access to and/or don't want to use condoms.

What Happens If I Enroll?
If you enroll, you will: Be tested for HIV, complete a physical exam, including an anal exam, and be asked questions about your medical and sexual history.

How Many Visits Are Required?
Project Gel consists of at least one and possibly up to nine visits. Some participants will be asked to return for subsequent visits to participate in Part 2 and Part 3 of the study, while others will only go as far as Part 1, which requires only one visit.

Will I Receive Compensation For My Participation?

Who is Sponsoring Project Gel?
The study is being paid for by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), branches of the National Institutes of Health.

Where Do I Sign Up or Get More Information?
Contact one of our three sites below! One of our recruiters will contact you shortly! We appreciate your support, time, and participation!


Vincent Pancucci
Clinical Trials Recruiter
The Fenway Institute | Fenway Health
Ansin Building | 1340 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02215

Contact Information:
Phone: 617.927.6450


Rita Labbett
Research Coordinator
Project Gel / RO1 Grants
Magee-Womens Research Institute
204 Craft Avenue, Room A311.c
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Contact Information:
Phone: (412) 641-3380

Puerto Rico

Jonathan Lopez-Matos
Proyecto Gamma
Universidad de Puerto Rico
Recinto de Ciencias Médicas
Centro Cardiovascular 8vo piso
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00935-6528

Contact Information:
Phone: 787-396-7213