Oct 122009
 
Authors: David Martinez

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently awarded a branch of CSU’s Department of Ethnic Studies a $1.9 million grant to implement an HIV/AIDS education and prevention program targeted at underfunded and minority communities across the country.

The project, implemented by the department’s National Community Readiness Program in late September, will use the grant money to build on the capacity of communities to implement HIV prevention and testing. The initiative will run through March 2013.

The issue of HIV/AIDS is just as relevant today, if not more important than it was 10 or 20 years ago, NCRP Director and primary investigator Pamela Thurman said, because “minorities are at a much higher risk today … and there are more modes of transmission.”

According to the CDC, in 2007, 51 percent of AIDS victim were African American and 18 percent Hispanic/Latino.

While the Department of Ethnic Studies has done community research for 19 years, looking at issues like substance abuse and violence, for the past nine years it has also focused on HIV/AIDS.

Although the World Health Organization has already adopted the NCRP’s model to combat child malnutrition in poorer countries, CSU will be the first to use this program for HIV/AIDS education and prevention. They will look at both urban and rural areas in each state, as well as the Native American reservations.

NCRP’s educational program involves a two-step process to determine a community’s need.

First, researchers use a variety of factors to assess a community’s understanding of HIV/AIDS transmission and prevention. Researchers then create an action readiness plan specifically designed for the communities to best educate them about how HIV/AIDS is transmitted, what to do if infected and how to prevent its spread.

The program does not currently receive assistance from other schools or departments, Thurman said, although she hopes to get other schools involved in the program, both locally and nationally, to increase cooperation and access.

Thurman brings 25 years of research experience to the project, having worked on topics like cultural competence, mental health, substance abuse, violence and victimization, rural women’s concerns and HIV/AIDS prevention.

She said that her team’s efforts would make a significant impact on community awareness and HIV/AIDS prevention with the recently attained grant.

“We’ve got a really dedicated team, we’re really passionate about our work,” Thurman said.

Junior English major Sheila Losinski said that CSU is taking positive steps toward addressing the increasingly prevalent issue of HIV/AIDS in the local community, as well as the nation.

“I think that (the Department of Ethnic Studies) should certainly bring more of what they’re doing to light,” Losinski said, “Whether we like it or not, this is an issue that’s out there. It’s gonna be out there for awhile.”

Staff writer David Martinez can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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