The PHS research project Opening Pandora's Box: Somali Women, Sexuality, and HIV/STD Prevention was awarded additional funding in February 2010 through an Institute for Diversity, Equity and Advocacy (IDEA) Multicultural Research Awards from the University of Minnesota's Office of the Vice President and Vice Provost for Equity and Diversity.
Bean Robinson, PhD, is working on the project with community partners Fatima Jama, program manager at Midwest Community Development Inc, and Amira Ahmed, founder and executive director at Midwest Community Development Inc. The study will be the first to examine HIV-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of Somali women of all sexual orientations with the ultimate goal of meeting the critical need to reduce HIV and STD transmission among African-born Americans in Minnesota (and the US), as African-born Americans have the highest HIV/AIDS rates of any ethnic group. Interviews will be conducted in either English or Somali by the project's bilingual Somali-raised community partners, who will recruit participants from Somali gathering places, mosques, and gay/lesbian clubs and bars. These Somali community partners represent heterosexual and gay/ lesbian/bisexual identities and have wide contacts including ones within the straight and hidden gay Somali communities.
The study was launched in September 2009 with an initial grant of $15,000 from the Program in Health Disparities Research also at the University of Minnesota Medical School. The additional $6,900 from the IDEA grant will help to increase the scientific scope and rigor of the project.
The information gathered from this study will be used to secure additional funding to further study the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to HIV/STD transmission and prevention within the Somali community. Ultimately the group will translate this knowledge to develop the first HIV counseling and testing intervention for Somali women.
PHOTO: Amira Ahmed, Fatima Jama, Bean Robinson, PhD
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