Why study HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)?
Racial and ethnic minorities have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic. The majority of new AIDS diagnoses, new HIV infections, people living with HIV/AIDS, and AIDS deaths are among racial and ethnic minorities. Additionally, men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to be at high risk for HIV infection despite a decline in infection rates since the early years of the epidemic. MSM accounted for an estimated 53% of new HIV infections in 2006 and are the only group for which new infections are on the rise (CDC, 2008; CDC, 2012; Hall et al., 2008).
What are we doing at El Centro to help prevent HIV/AIDS and other STIs in racial, ethnic and sexual minority groups?
El Centro has been supporting studies that aim to have an impact on HIV/STI risk in diverse populations and cultures since it was first funded in 2007. El Centro investigators are developing interventions to prevent and treat HIV/STIs, assuring that their approaches are tailored to the cultural values and needs of each group and then putting these interventions to the test in real-world community-based programs. One of the breakthrough interventions being conducted by El Centro is the "SEPA (Salud/Health, Educacion/Education, Prevencion/Prevention and Autocuidado/Self-care)", first developed and tested with low-income, inner-city Latinas in Chicage, to respond to disparate rates of HIV infection in that population. Implementation of the "SEPA" model has been shown effective in reducing HIV risk behavior and chlamydia rates. The SEPA intervention is identified as a “high-impact prevention” model in by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Effective Interventions: HIV Prevention that Works website, designed as a resource “to provide the best evidence-based HIV prevention services to providers such as health departments and community-based organizations working with populations at risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV” https://effectiveinterventions.cdc.gov/en/highimpactprevention/Interventions/SEPA.aspx. The SEPA intervention package and training is made available by the CDC through their Replicating Effective Programs Plus (REP) initiative to disseminate evidence-based HIV behavioral interventions.
To date, El Centro has supported 20 studies that aim to understand and reduce HIV/STI infection and risk behavior in diverse populations that include Latinos, African-Americans, Caribbean-Americans and sexual minorities.