Haiti has the largest HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Caribbean (approximately 2.2% of its adult population living with HIV in 2008). Little is known about HIV and Haitian youth and factors that increase their vulnerability. This application seeks funding to create infrastructure support for innovative research education and capacity-building with social and behavioral faculty/scholars at Universite d'Etat d'Haiti (UEH). Haiti is the developing country of interest due to its disproportionate HIV/AIDS rate, to the dearth of knowledge about HIV and Haitian youth, and based on the University of South Florida (USF) team's established connections there. SHARE Haiti provides a unique international, inter-institutional and multidisciplinary approach to HIV research education. The goal is to develop innovative research skills of faculty/ scholars at UEH to address issues of HIV in youth in Haiti using a Syndemics Theory (ST) approach. ST is central to HIV prevention among Haitian youth, stipulating that HIV mitigation efforts in that population will not succeed unless co- occurring social and biological factors are investigated and addressed (e.g., co-occurring epidemics of poverty, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual violence against adolescent females, and factors related to the displacement of populations and dissolution of family structure after the 2010 earthquake).
Specific aims are as follows:
Aim 1 : Develop infrastructure at UEH and strengthen capacity of UEH faculty/Scholars to conduct research that informs scientifically sound and culturally-relevant HIV prevention, care, and treatment to Haitian youth in their local communities by providing computing resources, support for developing grant applications, training in human subjects protection, and developing regulations consistent with complying with ethical standards of the conduct of research.
Aim 2 : Using Syndemics as the guiding theory, the cross- disciplinary efforts will underscore requisite components of intervention development, implementation, fidelity, evaluation, and sustainability of prevention programs in community settings. Faculty at USF will train Scholars at UEH through web-based and in-person teaching and intensive one-on-one mentoring through a period of 3 and a half years.
The proposed SHARE Haiti training program is consistent with NICHD's priority to 'strengthen the research infrastructure of institutions in developing countries' via training and via provision of resources needed to mitigate the consequences of HIV/AIDS and will sustain UEH infrastructure while increasing the number of highly qualified HIV scholars there; and it will create sustainable partnerships for submission of cutting-edge proposals to NIH that ultimately improve the health of Haitians.