New Grant to Fund HIV Self-Testing Intervention for Black Men in NYC

New York Blood Center's Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute (LFKRI) Laboratory of Social and Behavioral Sciences has received a three-year, $2 million grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) to develop and test an HIV self-testing intervention for young, Black, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men.

Drs. Victory Frye and Leo Wilton are leading the groundbreaking study.

"Providing a space for young, gay, Black men to learn the skills needed to conduct HIV self-testing correctly, with the support of a friend or buddy, is a potentially empowering approach to self-care for young, gay Black men," said Dr. Frye in a released statement.

"The approach also addresses two concerns around self-testing. The first is around correct operation of the HIV self-test, which can affect the accuracy of the test. The second is around receiving a positive test result alone and unsupported. The intervention is designed to address these concerns while promoting consistent self-testing and encouraging young people to take control of their sexual health and well-being," her statement continued.

Among racial/ethnic groups, African Americans face the most severe burden of
HIV and AIDS in the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in Florida, Blacks account for 49 percent of total HIV diagnosis and 60 percent of AIDS case deaths in 2011, even though Blacks only made up approximately 15 percent of Florida’s population.

So what accounts for this disparity? There are many factors. Among them:

  • Poverty can limit access to health care, HIV testing, and medications that can lower levels of HIV in the blood and help prevent transmission risk. In addition, those who cannot afford the basics in life may end up in circumstances that increase their HIV risk.
  • Discrimination, stigma and homophobia: Far too prevalent in many communities, these factors may discourage individuals from seeking testing, prevention, and treatment services.
  • Prevalence of HIV and other STDs in a community: More people living with HIV or infected with STDs can increase an individual’s risk of infection with every sexual encounter, especially if, within those communities, people select partners who are from the same ethnicity.
  • Higher rates of undiagnosed/untreated STDs can increase the risk of both acquiring and transmitting HIV.
  • Higher rates of incarceration among men can disrupt social and sexual networks in the broader community and decrease the number of available partners for women, which can fuel the spread of HIV.

The Florida Department of Health has a wide range of programs aimed at addressing the health disparity of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in minority communities. They include faith-based initiatives, community programs and collaborations with political and media organizations. You can see the complete list here: http://bit.ly/1thrE6N

More important than any state initiative or community program, it is important to everyone to know his or her HIV status. For information about access to confidential testing please visit: http://bit.ly/11DX4yG


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