Skip to main content

Press Releases and Advisories

Brian Mustanski

Northwestern professor Brian Mustanski appointed advisor to director of the NIH

December 20, 2023

Northwestern University professor Brian Mustanski has been appointed to the Advisory Committee to the Director of National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Monica Bertagnolli. Mustanski was invited to join the committee by Xavier Becerra, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Mustanski’s appointment begins immediately and extends through 2027.

Mustanski is director of Northwestern’s Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH), director of the NIH-funded Third Coast Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) and a professor in the department of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. His research centers on HIV prevention and treatment and the health and development of LGBTQ+ youth.

Read the press release about Mustanski's NIH appointment.

Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women's Hospital and Children's Memorial Hospital

Patients can choose “X” as sex designation at Northwestern Medicine starting Dec. 18

December 11, 2023

Patients will soon be able to choose “X” as a sex designation at Northwestern Medicine’s 11 hospitals and more than 200 outpatient locations throughout Illinois. “X” is a sex designation on government identification documents that represents a legal sex other than male or female. Most commonly, people who are nonbinary, intersex or transgender may opt to use “X” instead of male “M” or female “F” as a sex designation on identification documents. The designation will be available as part of the health system’s electronic medical record beginning Dec. 18.

“Northwestern Medicine hospitals and outpatient centers affirm every patient’s gender identity,” said Sumanas Jordan, MD, PhD, director of the Gender Pathways Program at Northwestern Medicine. “The new medical record designation will enhance communication with patients, align with best practices and help our staff better meet the needs of the diverse population we serve.”

Read the Northwestern Medicine press release.

prep4teens on rainbow flag with people standing in front

Northwestern launches HIV prevention youth awareness campaign

November 10, 2023

A new social awareness and community mobilization campaign called “PrEP4Teens,” a collaboration led by scientists at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and community leaders in sexual health and youth engagement, will launch on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at TaskForce Prevention and Community Services in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago.

PrEP4Teens stems from research that identified lack of understanding and awareness as the main barriers for teenagers and young sexual and gender minorities to start taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP are FDA-approved medications that reduce an individual’s chance of getting HIV from sex or injection drug use by as much as 99%. PrEP is approved for adolescent use.

Read the Prep4Teens press release.

Brian Mustanski

Syphilis transmission in U.S. higher among transgender women and Black gay and bisexual men, study finds

October 10, 2023

Transgender women and Black gay and bisexual men in Chicago are nearly twice as likely to contract syphilis at some point in their lives as white gay men, according to a new study conducted by scientists at Northwestern University.

The study, “Syphilis prevalence, incidence, and demographic differences in a longitudinal study of young sexual and gender minority adults assigned male at birth,” is the first to examine syphilis over time among young sexual and gender minorities — a category which encompasses gay and bisexual men, trans women and non-binary individuals. They found meaningful demographic differences in prevalence, across participants’ lifetimes and during the six-month period of the study, leading to a more nuanced understanding of risk factors for the under researched group. The study was published  in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The research comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plan to recommend doxy-PEP, a one-time dose of the antibiotic doxycycline, for use after an unprotected sexual encounter, to gay and bisexual men and trans women. The treatment could help curb cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Read the press release on increasing syphilis rates.

teen girls looking down at a cell phone

‘Social media isn’t universally harmful to youth,’ education around it is lacking

May 25, 2023

Although the Surgeon General published a report this week blaming social media in part for the youth mental health crisis, a Northwestern Medicine clinical psychologist is advising parents to look to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) advisory for more nuance.

“Saying social media is universally bad for youth is wrong and erases the good examples of what it can do for youth who are historically excluded, marginalized, or lack access to peers,” said Kathryn Macapagal, an associate professor of medical social sciences and psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “This includes teens who are LGBTQ, immunocompromised or have disabilities, and rural youth.”

Read the press release on youth and social media.

men holding hands and walking

Relationship education reduces STIs and risky sex among young gay, bisexual men

May 10, 2023

New research from Northwestern University has shown that educating couples, rather than individuals, may be a highly effective strategy to end the HIV epidemic. The study, published recently in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, found that relationship education can benefit young same-sex male couples by reducing the occurrence of sexually transmitted infections and sexual risk behaviors. The report analyzes outcomes from the first randomized controlled trial of 2GETHER, a relationship-education and HIV-prevention program, and finds the program improves both biomedical and behavioral indicators of HIV risk.

Read the relationship education press release.

three teenage boys sitting on a brick wall outside a store

Banning drag performances won’t help youth mental health crisis

March 7, 2023

As South Carolina, Texas and Arizona have already introduced or moved forward on passing anti-drag legislation, in part due to Tennessee’s new bills, experts at Northwestern University worry this marks the beginning of rolling back growing protections for trans people in the U.S.  "The problems that these laws allegedly seek to solve have not been demonstrated or explained. There is no evidence of children getting hurt at drag shows, but suicide and homicide are leading causes of death for teenagers, and we should put our energy into these very real and solvable problems,” says Brian Mustanski, PhD.

Read the press release on anti-drag legislation.

round white pills

High-risk sexual minority men living with HIV need a new path forward

February 1, 2023

Viral suppression of HIV by antiretroviral medications helps slow transmission of the disease and keep individuals living with it healthy, at times making viral loads so low they are undetectable even on blood tests. Sixty-five percent of people diagnosed with HIV in the U.S. were virally suppressed as of 2020. Now, Northwestern University and Columbia University researchers have published findings on how to achieve greater numbers of viral suppression among the highest-risk sexual and gender minority men living with HIV in the U.S. South. The paper, published Feb. 1 in the journal AIDS, focused on existing methods to achieve viral suppression.

Read the press release on reaching high-risk men living with HIV.