With her calm and engaging demeanor, Jaimie P. Meyer, MD, MS, was a comforting presence to many people in Connecticut at the start of the COVID pandemic. Meyer was one of many Yale doctors who frequently appeared on local television, answering medical questions while sharing the latest information on COVID-19 with their audience.
When the pandemic began, Meyer and other Yale physician-scientists quickly turned away from their areas of research and took on new roles. Now they are returning to focus on the questions that guide their research, which for Meyer have to do with HIV and women’s health.
An associate professor of medicine (infectious diseases, AIDS) at the Yale School of Medicine and of chronic disease epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, Meyer discusses the social and structural factors that influence a woman’s HIV risk. Previously, she spent seven years working with women at York Correctional Facility in Connecticut as an HIV care provider.
“For a lot of women I’ve worked with over the past two decades, it’s really about managing their relationships, their substance use, and dealing with their risk of HIV,” Meyer said. “If they’re already HIV-positive, it’s also about making sure they’re taken care of.
Meyer’s lab informs, develops and tests HIV prevention and treatment strategies that “address gender, trauma and social determinants of health,” she said.
“When women are first incarcerated, they are separated from their communities and their partners and any social support systems they have, and many didn’t have much left,” Meyer said. “It’s rewarding to be able to do something for them and help them rebuild and see them succeed.”
She maintained her connection with many of these women at the Nathan Smith Clinic, a clinic funded by Ryan White and one of Yale’s primary care centers for people living with HIV. “It’s just an incredibly powerful patient-provider relationship,” she said. “Many of these women continue to live long and healthy lives. I am happy to be part of their journey.
Meyer’s lab is involved in several HIV-related projects. “Identifying HIV Care Outcomes and Resilience in Women Exposed to Domestic Violence”, funded by the National Institutes of Health, aims to understand how exposure to domestic violence affects women’s ability to self-manage their HIV. Meyer’s co-principal investigator is Tami Sullivan, PhDof the Department of Psychiatry, which directs domestic violence research and programs at Yale.
“Project CHANGE: Comprehensive Housing and Addiction Management Network for Greater New Haven” is a SAMHSA-funded service project designed to provide integrated housing and addiction treatment for people returning home from the criminal justice system.
And “PrEP WAVE: Optimizing PrEP’s Potential in Non-Clinical Settings”, is a project funded by the National Institutes of Health that deals with the development and evaluation of a PrEP decision aid for black women who are victims of domestic violence. in Baltimore, Maryland. Meyer’s co-principal investigator on this project is Tiara Willie, PhD, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. PrEP refers to pre-exposure prophylaxis (taking a prescription drug as a way to prevent HIV infection in an HIV-negative person).
Meyer has also served as a medical expert on legal cases involving COVID in prisons. “COVID, especially at the start of the pandemic, just swept through jails and prisons,” she said. Advocacy organizations such as the ACLU have sued prisons or the Federal Bureau of Prisons on behalf of incarcerated people. As a result, thousands of people have been released from prison, reducing their risk of COVID.
As part of the settlement of a Connecticut case, Meyer was appointed as a member of an independent oversight committee to recommend changes so that conditions in prison enclosed spaces can be improved during a pandemic.
“I truly enjoy being an infectious disease physician-scientist and am proud to be part of the Yale community, which has truly risen to the challenge of a global pandemic and continues to impact daily life. people,” Meyer said.
The Section of Infectious Diseases of the Department of Internal Medicine engages in a wide range of patient care, research, and educational activities. To learn more about their work, visit Infectious diseases.