World Aids Day
November 30, 2018
In recognition of World AIDS Day, we are highlighting research and service initiatives from the School of Public Health focused on reducing the incidence of HIV/AIDS and supporting the HIV-related healthcare needs of diverse populations. 
 
Student Learning Opportunities
 
Behavioral and Community Health Assistant Professor Elizabeth Aparicio’s undergraduate health elective course “Community Health Engagement” (HLTH 292) enables undergraduate students throughout the university to explore and apply basic community health concepts through service learning. For the Fall 2018 semester, students in the class are engaging in a "scholarship in practice" project established through a partnership with One Tent Health, a D.C.based non-profit offering free pop-up HIV screening and PrEP navigation services.
 
As part of the class, students receive training in rapid HIV testing, volunteer on-site with One Tent Health, and pilot several evaluation tools to help support One Tent Health's work. Students have worked steadily throughout the semester to develop a tool to assess the client experience of One Tent Health's services, the volunteer experience of conducting pop-up HIV testing in Washington D.C. and the student leadership experience of supervising volunteers across several local universities (UMD, Howard University, Georgetown University, George Washington University and American University). 
 
“We screen hundreds of clients but don’t really have data on the client experience," says One Tent Health Co-Founder and CEO Mackenzie Copley, “We are very grateful for the student’s valuable work and I’m happy that UMD students are able to get out of College Park, get on the green line and visit at-risk communities in D.C.”
 
“We are really appreciative of Dr. Aparicio and Teaching Assistant Michelle Jasczynski’s efforts to facilitate this partnership,” Copley adds. 
 
At the end of the semester, students will present on their experience conducting the projects and report on pilot evaluation findings. 
 
Faculty HIV/AIDS Research
  • Dr. Mona Mittal, assistant professor in the Department of Family Science was recently awarded more than $100,000 in funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for the project titled, “An Integrated Substance Use, Violence, and HIV/AIDS Syndemic Risk-Reduction Intervention for African American Couples.” The combined interaction between substance use, violence and HIV/AIDS (known as the SAVA syndemic) contributes to the disproportionately high incidence of new HIV infections in the African American community. This project aims to address these health disparities situated in social and environmental contexts by adapting and pilot testing a SAVA informed intervention for currently HIV-negative but high-risk heterosexual African American couples in the United States. 
     
  • Since 2014, Dr. Thurka Sangaramoorthy, associate professor of anthropology and affiliate professor in the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health; Dr. Typhanye Dyer, assistant professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Dr. Amelia Jamison, faculty research assistant at the Maryland Center for Health Equity have examined the perceptions and experiences of HIV-related stigma in Prince George’s County, Maryland through semi-structured interviews with 35 midlife and older Black women living with HIV. Common themes emerged related to the experience of intersectional stigma and changes in stigma experience over time. Their findings suggest that intersectional stigma is a central feature in midlife and older Black women’s lives, at the interpersonal/familial, community and institutional/structural levels. Although women acknowledged gradual acceptance of their HIV-positive status over time, they continued to experience negative responses related to gender, race, age and disease. The findings indicate that a more robust understanding of the impact of HIV-related stigma requires work to consider the complex manifestations of intersectional stigma among an increasingly aging population of Black women in the United States.
     
  • A study published in August 2018, led by assistant professor Dr. Typhanye V. Dyer, explores the differences in psychosocial and HIV-related risk behaviors of bisexual men and gay men and underscores the need for tailored intervention strategies for bisexual men. Published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, the study found that Black bisexual men had increased odds of engaging in more substance use and were also more psychosocially vulnerable with elevated risk of engaging in HIV-related sexual risk behaviors when engaging in sex with men.
     
  • In 2018, Dr. Thurka Sangaramoorthy began a small oral history project to gain a better understanding of the impacts of living and aging with HIV among older Black women using life history interviews and photography. Working with HIV-positive Black women from the Washington D.C.-Maryland region, this project will explore how HIV has influenced women's lives. The purpose of this project is to present holistic, complex and collective stories of women who have long been ignored in the history of HIV and often cast aside as drug addicts and prostitutes. The long-term objective of this research is to understand the lives and struggles of Black women aging with HIV and how they have contributed to the transformation of American history and cultural ideas about sexuality, health, civil rights, arts and media. 
HIV/AIDS Research from the University of Maryland Prevention Research Center 
 
The University of Maryland Prevention Research Center (UMD-PRC), under the direction of Behavioral and Community Health Professor Bradley Boekeloo, is involved in multiple HIV/AIDS prevention research projects including:
 
  • IMPACT DMV 
    Principal Investigator: Bradley Boekeloo

    The District of Columbia Department of Health, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration has partnered with the UMD-PRC to better address the HIV-related healthcare needs of persons who are both race/ethnicity minority as well as sexual and gender minority (including gay, bisexual, transgender persons). Overall, this population constitutes the highest risk group for HIV infection.  This project provides multi-level cultural competency training to address barriers to mental healthcare and referral to HIV medical services. Mental healthcare organization administrators as well as individual providers are engaged to reduce the multiple healthcare organizational systems/policy/environment as well as provider knowledge, attitude and skill barriers to care experienced by many race/ethnicity and sexual/gender minority persons.  
     

  • Sexual Health in Recovery 
    Principal Investigator: Bradley Boekeloo and Co-Investigator: Evelyn King-Marshall

    Persons who repeatedly have sex under the influence of drugs (including alcohol) constitute a high-risk group for HIV as well as drug addiction. The Maryland Department of Health has partnered with the University of Maryland Prevention Research Center to evaluate its multi-session intervention program to reduce sex and drug co-occurrence among substance use rehabilitation clients. 
     

  • Fostering Healthy Relationships 
    Co-Principal Investigators: Elizabeth Aparicio and Bradley Boekeloo

    Youth in foster care are at higher risk for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and 2-3 times as likely to become pregnant than peers not in foster care. During this community-based participatory research project, the University of Maryland Prevention Research Center is partnering with foster care organizations, youth and staff as well as community and university experts to conduct a needs assessment and create an innovative multi-level sexual health intervention for youth in foster care. This study is funded by the UMD Department of Behavioral and Community Health.
     

  • UMES Prevention Works 
    UMD Principal Investigator: Bradley Boekeloo

    The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) is a Historically Black University and an 1890 Land Grant Institution within the University of Maryland System. UMES has partnered with the University of Maryland Prevention Research Center for the UMES Prevention Works Initiative.  The project seeks to understand and reduce alcohol and substance use problems, sexually transmitted infections including HIV and Hepatitis C Virus (STI/HIV/HCV) among UMES students. This study is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 
     

  • Pakistan Transgender and MSM Health Project 
    Principal Investigator: Bradley Boekeloo with student Muhammad Mussadiq

    The transgender and MSM (men who have sex with men) populations in Pakistan suffer from high rates of HIV relative to other Pakistanis. These populations are particularly vulnerable to HIV because of health care inequalities related to social determinants of healthcare access and stigma. The aim of this project is to conduct a needs assessment and gain a better understanding of healthcare for sexual and gender minorities in Pakistan. The major goal of this project is to identify barrier, gaps and opportunities from key stakeholders to improve the healthcare services for transgender and MSM populations in Pakistan.