The primary goal of the proposed research is to advance translation of alcohol and HIV/AIDS prevention research into a rural Southern community, among a highly disparate group - African American Blacks. HIV/AIDS continues to be a public health concern in rural America. The South is disproportionally affected by rural HIV/AIDS cases, particularly among African Americans. In addition to being disproportionately affected by HIV, the rural South is also experiencing surges of increased alcohol and drug abuse. Unfortunately, literature to guide HIV and other sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention outreach in rural areas remains limited.
The specific aims of the proposed study are: 1) to gain an in-depth understanding of HIV risk and protective behaviors among African American alcohol using social networks within rural communities;2) to adapt, implement, and evaluate a community-level evidenced-based HIV intervention, the Community Popular Opinion Leader (C-POL) targeting this population;3) to lay the ground-work for future adoption and implementation of community-level HIV prevention to alcohol using networks throughout rural Louisiana. Rural Louisiana is an ideal location for such prevention activities. Proposed activities will take place in the rural region located directly between the New Orleans and Baton Rouge Metropolitan areas. These two cities were ranked respectively as the 2nd and 3rd highest metropolitan areas in AIDS case rates during 2007. To conduct the research, we will partner with a local rural community-based organization (CBO), the Southeast Louisiana Area Health Education Center (SELAHEC), the Louisiana Office of Public Health's (OPH) HIV/AIDS Program, and a local Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in the region. The C-POL intervention is ideal for the proposed target population and setting, given its efficiency, use of an empirically-tested and effective model, emphasis on community empowerment, ability to address other pertinent issues, and broad adaptability. The strengths of the proposed study are in its target population, adaptation of a community- and evidence-based HIV intervention, and unique partnerships aimed at reducing HIV infection, increasing HIV testing, and decreasing stigma among rural African Americans.
The proposed project builds on our previous Alcohol Research Center's translational component and fits nicely within the Trans-NIH Plan for HIV-Research in the Behavioral/Social Science Area of Emphasis as we form a unique partnership to adapt the active ingredients of an efficacious, theory-based intervention. Overall, the study findings may contribute to healthier people as well as healthier environments and a reduction in HIV/AIDS health disparities among rural African Americans.
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