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Coleman-Chair-BP-7.jpgMedical advances, improved access to care, prevention initiatives, and our nation's aspiration of an AIDS-free generation are all good signs, but as a culture we will need to shift our perspective to stop the spread of HIV.

 
Over the last 30 years, where have we failed? We know that HIV is still mostly spread by sexual behavior. Yet, the disease is rather easily preventable through the use of condoms. Condoms are reasonably inexpensive, potentially readily available, easy to use, and highly effective in preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (and unintended pregnancy). What a bargain! So, why are they not used more?


Behavioral HIV prevention strategies and interventions have tried to get people to reduce risky sexual behavior and promote condom use. While reasonably effective, there needs to be continuous implementation of these interventions, and they are costly. Investment in prevention strategies has always been difficult.


New strategies are overdue. In the United States, we continue to experience 50,000 new infections a year, with young people aged 13-29 accounting for 39% of all new HIV infections.* And, there are serious health disparities.  People of color, youth, and sexual minorities are much more likely to become infected than other groups. While 60% of new infections around the world are found in gay and bisexual men, only 2% of the global prevention budget is directed at this group. Also, transgender individuals are an overlooked population at major risk for HIV, due in large part to continued stigma and discrimination. This disparity in funding efforts represents the institutionalized stigmatization, heterosexism, and homophobia that exist in our cultures as well as in our public health systems. If we do not attend to this population as well as other marginalized populations such as sex workers and drug users, we will fail in our efforts to stop the spread of infections.


A fundamental problem remains. We remain a sexually dysfunctional culture. We live in a culture that is still uncomfortable talking about sex and sexuality in a mature and honest fashion. We continue to debate and hold back on providing comprehensive sexuality education. It is very clear that what distinguishes the United States from other developed countries in sexual health indicators is the existence of (or lack thereof) early and sustained comprehensive sexuality education. When kids are educated early they grow up to be more comfortable with talking about sexuality, more likely to be sexually responsible, and have lower rates of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies. They contribute to a cultural climate that is sexually healthy. That climate then insists on comprehensive sexuality education and thereby creates a cycle of healthiness. In the United States, we are still caught up in a negative and unhealthy vicious cycle. The goal of the Joycelyn Elders Chair in Sexual Health Education is to reverse this negative cycle.


As the current Chair in Sexual Health, I continue to push a sexual health agenda in HIV prevention. I believe in the need for a broad sexual health approach to stem the tide of the HIV epidemic. I envision an approach that goes beyond venereology and on an individual level

• emphasizes a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual expression throughout the lifespan;

• acknowledges sexuality as a basic and fundamental aspect of our humanness and that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is natural and desirable;

• combats sexual coercion, shame, discrimination, and violence;

• promotes positive sexual identity and esteem;

• encourages honest communication and trust between partners;

• supports the possibility of having pleasurable, fulfilling, and satisfying sexual experiences;

• insists that individuals take responsibility of the consequences of their sexual choices and their impact on others; and

• optimizes reproductive capacity and choice

 

At the community level, it is achieved through

• access to developmentally appropriate, comprehensive, and scientifically accurate sexuality education;

• clinical and preventative sexual health services; and

• respect for individual differences and diversity and a lack of societal prejudice, stigma, and discrimination.

As the Chair in Sexual Health, I will continue to work with our faculty at the Program in Human Sexuality and with partners around the world to promote a sexually healthier culture - not only to address the sexual problems in the world -- but to advance the opportunity for everyone to lead sexually healthier lives which are pleasurable and satisfying.

Eli Coleman, PhD
Professor and Director
Chair in Sexual Health

 

New HIV Infections in the United States by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Iantaffi-&-Gonzalez-BP.jpgAlex Iantaffi, PhD, and Cesar Gonzalez, PhD, will conduct a needs assessment with the transgender community focused on testing rates, medication adherence, and knowledge and acceptability of pre-exposure prophylaxis with transgender populations.

The one-year project was funded by the Developmental Center for AIDS Research (DCFAR) in the Academic Health Centre at the University of Minnesota. Iantaffi is the principal investigator and Gonzalez will serve as the co-investigator. Of the five DCFAR studies funded at the University, this is the only one that features a community based participatory research approach. The study will be completed in September 2014.

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SWISH-report-BP.jpgHIV infection among Somalis is increasing in Minnesota. Many Somalis living in Minnesota do not know they are infected and are not getting the medical treatment they need.

In 2009 the University of Minnesota and Midwest Community Development, Inc. launched a project to explore HIV risk and sexual behaviors in Somali women titled "Somali Women's Initiative for Sexual Health (SWISH)." On April 13, 2013, researchers shared their study results with the community.

This study is the first to examine HIV-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of Somali women 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. Participants were recruited through personal contacts as well as from Somali gathering places. Researchers interviewed 30 Somali women aged 18-40 from the Twin Cities area. Interviews were conducted in English (8) or Somali (22) by the project's bilingual Somali staff.

Key findings of the study include:

•    HIV testing was done at high rates, primarily due to immigration requirements. It is unknown how that may differ for those who were born in US.

•    Condoms are used, primarily for pregnancy prevention rather than disease prevention.  This may be due to a perceived low risk for disease.

•    Despite frequent mentions of prohibitions of many sexual behaviors, women also reported an encouragement within their religious tradition towards sexual pleasure within marriage.

•    Women often spoke of a culture of privacy in which discussions of sexuality are saved for one's spouse.

•    Vaginal intercourse seen as the only permissible form of sexual expression between spouses.

•    The more severe circumcision correlated with reported vaginal pain with intercourse.

•    This population reports a higher rate of pain with vaginal intercourse than the average US population (40% vs. 13%).

•    Generally, women had negative attitudes towards circumcision and would not choose to circumcise their daughters, despite high rates of personal circumcision.

The principal investigator of SWISH, Bean Robinson, PhD, said, "For this project, it was essential that we had strong, engaged community partners. Due to language barriers, we were challenged to develop interview questions that made sense and really got to the heart of what we were asking. For example, there is no Somali word for female or male 'orgasm' and our attempt at a description of an orgasm ended up being 59 words long and few participants understood what we were asking. We were not able to use that data."

The community presentation event was part of the Community Dialogue Series co-hosted by the University of Minnesota's Program in Health Disparities Research and the Center for Health Equity. The research project was funded by the Program in Health Disparities Research, the University's IDEA Multicultural Research Award, and the UCare Fund. The information gathered during this pilot study will be used to secure a larger grant 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 interventions for Somali women.

The research team included Bean Robinson, PhD, principal-investigator; Amira Ahmed, BA, co-investigator, founder and executive director at Midwest Community Development Inc.; Jennifer Connor, PhD, co-investigator, St. Cloud State University; Shanda Hunt, BA, project coordinator; Fatah Ahmed, BA, interviewer and recruiter; Amanda Ciesinski, MS, volunteer, Megan Finsaas, BA, volunteer; Fatima Noor, volunteer translator, and Professional Interpreting Inc.. The project's Community Advisory Board assisted and advised the research team in study development, recruitment, and data analysis and interpretation.

Community report in English

Community report in Somali

If you would like printed copies of the community report, please contact phsresearch@umn.edu

Photo: Bean Robinson, PhD, presenting; seated left to right: Amira Ahmed, BA; Shanda Hunt, MPH; Amanda Ciesinski, MS; Megan Finsaas, BA; Jennifer Connor, PhD


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Letter from the Chair in Sexual Health

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MSM-global-forum-crop-BP.jpgI am writing this letter from the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. It has been 22 years since the International AIDS conference was held in the United States (mainly due to the unwillingness on the part of the United States to grant visas for HIV-infected individuals- only recently lifted).

Here 25,000 scientists, policy makers, health and education ministry officials, advocates, and activists from around the world are gathered with a renewed determination to stem the tide of this epidemic. Medical advances, improved access to care, prevention initiatives, and our nation's revived determination are all good signs, but as a culture we will need to shift our perspective to stop the spread of HIV.

Recent news of pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis treatment has been encouraging. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Truvada (emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent the spread of HIV to high-risk, healthy individuals. Other similar preparations are under investigation and HIV therapeutic drugs are being developed for prophylactic use. These drugs are very costly and require individuals to adhere to rigid compliance in order to be effective.

Also, last week, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced nearly $80 million in grants to increase access to HIV/AIDS care across the United States. The funding will ensure that low-income people living with HIV/AIDS continue to have access to life-saving health care and medications. This effort stemmed from President Obama's determination to create an AIDS-free generation.

In addition, there is reduced stigma for HIV infected individuals. The CDC just launched "Let's Stop HIV Together" a new campaign that is part of the 5-year initiative started in 2009 to reduce stigma around HIV and advocate for more access to testing and treatment "Act Against AIDS."

The United States, through its National AIDS Strategy, has outlined a "prevention" strategy through early detection and early treatment, focusing on vulnerable populations.

These new strategies are overdue. In the United States, we continue to experience 50,000 new infections a year. And, there are serious health disparities. People of color, youth, and sexual minorities are much more likely to become infected than other groups.

Over the last 30 years, where have we failed? We know that HIV is still mostly spread by sexual behavior. Yet, the disease is rather easily preventable through the use of condoms. Condoms are reasonably inexpensive, potentially readily available, easy to use, and highly effective in preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (and unintended pregnancy). What a bargain! So, why are they not used more?

Behavioral HIV prevention strategies and interventions have tried to get people to reduce risky sexual behavior and promote condom use. While reasonably effective, there needs to be continuous implementation of these interventions, and they are costly. Investment in prevention strategies has always been difficult. With the recently adopted National Prevention Strategy, National AIDS Strategy, and the Affordable Care Act, there is new hope that these investments will be made.

But a fundamental problem remains. We remain a sexually dysfunctional culture. We live in a culture that is still uncomfortable talking about sex and sexuality in a mature and honest fashion. We continue to debate and hold back on providing comprehensive sexuality education. It is very clear that what distinguishes the United States from other developed countries in sexual health indicators is the existence of (or lack thereof) early and sustained comprehensive sexuality education. When kids are educated early they grow up to be more comfortable with talking about sexuality, more likely to be sexually responsible, and have lower rates of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies. They contribute to a cultural climate that is sexually healthy. That climate then insists on comprehensive sexuality education and thereby creates a cycle of healthiness. In the United States, we are still caught up in a negative and unhealthy vicious cycle. The goal of the Joycelyn Elders Chair in Sexual Health Education is to reverse this negative cycle.

Both Walter Bockting and I, along with over 600 delegates from around the world attended the "Global Forum on Men who Have Sex with Men (MSM) and HIV" as part of the International AIDS Conference. While 60% of new infections around the world are found in gay and bisexual men, only 2% of the global prevention budget is directed at this group. Also, transgender individuals are an overlooked population at major risk for HIV, due in large part to continued stigma and discrimination. This disparity in funding efforts represents the institutionalized stigmatization, heterosexism, and homophobia that exist in our cultures as well as in our public health systems. If we do not attend to this population as well as other marginalized populations such as sex workers and drug users, we will fail in our efforts to stop the spread of infections.

Walter Bockting and I also attended two important meetings pertaining to transgender health and HIV. The first was called "The Great TRANSformation: Towards a Holistic Approach for Healthier and Happier Trans Communities in Latin America and the Caribbean." Walter Bockting talked about "Avenues for Action for the Provision of Care and the Promotion of Well-Being." This symposium represented some of our ongoing work with the Pan American Health Organization in developing and finalizing a "Blueprint for the Provision of Prevention and Care for Transgender Individuals through Latin American and the Caribbean." We also participated in a second special session on "Addressing Stigma in Transgender & Other HIV-Vulnerable Communities" sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, and the Pan American Health Organization.
 
As the current Chair in Sexual Health, I was happy to participate in this conference and push a sexual health agenda in HIV prevention. I was very pleased that the Program in Human Sexuality was a co-sponsor along with the Pan American Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of a satellite session on "Addressing Sexual Health and Evidence-based Sexual Health Education: Evolving Opportunities." I spoke on "Towards a Broader Vision of Sexual Health in the New Millennium." I emphasized the need for a broad sexual health approach to stem the tide of the HIV epidemic, which emphasizes a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual expression throughout the lifespan and that acknowledges sexuality as a basic and fundamental aspect of our humanness and that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is natural and desirable. A broad sexual health approach combats sexual coercion, shame, discrimination, and violence. But a sexual health approach must go beyond venereology and, on an individual level, promote positive sexual identity and esteem, honest communication and trust between partners, the possibility of having pleasurable, fulfilling and satisfying sexual experiences, taking responsibility of the consequences of one's sexual choices and their impact on others, and optimizing reproductive capacity and choice. At the community level, it is achieved through access to developmentally appropriate, comprehensive and scientifically accurate sexuality education, clinical and preventative sexual health services, and respect for individual differences and diversity and a lack of societal prejudice, stigma, and discrimination.

The Chair in Sexual Health will continue to work with our faculty at PHS and with partners around the world to promote a sexually healthier culture - not only to address the sexual problems in the world -- but to advance the opportunity for everyone to lead sexually healthier lives which are pleasurable and satisfying.

Eli Coleman, PhD
Professor and Director
Academic Chair in Sexual Health

PHOTO: Omar Banos (Impacto at AIDS Project Los Angeles), Rafael Mazin (Pan American Health Organization), and Eli Coleman

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AIDS2012-BP.jpgThe international AIDS conference has returned to the US for the first time since 1990. More than 25,000 scientists, practitioners, government officials, activists, and individuals living with HIV from around the world will gather in Washington, DC, on July 22 - 27, 2012. The theme this year is "Turning the Tide Together."

Eli Coleman, PhD, and Walter Bockting, PhD, will both be presenting at the conference this year. The conference objective is to bring together leaders that can directly impact the future of HIV in the United States and around the world, "By acting decisively on recent scientific advances in HIV treatment and biomedical prevention, the momentum for a cure, and the continuing evidence of the ability to scale-up key interventions in the most-needed settings, we now have the potential to end the HIV epidemic."

If you are not attending the conference, you can view videos online featuring conference highlights and interviews with key speakers and delegates on the conference YouTube channel

The selection of Washington DC is significant because HIV rates in the district have reached epidemic levels and in 2009 President Barack Obama overturned the US entry and immigration ban for individuals living with HIV. The US had been ruled out as a possible venue for the international AIDS conference because of the ban.

In addition to the conference, the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display in Washington DC across 50 locations. Today the quilt has 48,000 panels and takes up 1.3 million square feet, in DC 35,200 panels will be on display, 8,800 different panels each day.

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Together-BP.jpg"Let's Stop HIV Together" is a new initiative launched by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on July 16, 2012. The campaign is a new phase of Act Against AIDS effort launched in 2009 to fight the complacency about HIV/AIDS in the United States and to reduce the risk of infection for the hardest-hit populations. The new campaign shares personal stories of individuals who are living with HIV and asks you to and your community to "Get the facts. Get tested. Get involved."

Based on 2009 statistics, the CDC estimates that in the United States each year 50,000 individuals become infected with HIV. At the end of 2008, an estimated 1,178,350 persons aged 13 and older were living with HIV infection in the United States. Of those, it is estimated that 20% had undiagnosed HIV infections.

If you are interested in promoting "Let's Stop HIV Together" or contributing your story to the campaign visit their website.

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Letter from the Chair in Sexual Health

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Eli-Coleman-BP.jpgOn World AIDS Day, it is certainly a poignant time to reflect on our progress and to reinvigorate our determination to halt this epidemic.  We have encouraging news.  The rates of HIV have fallen to the lowest levels since the peak of the epidemic, new HIV infections were reduced by 21% since 1997, and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses decreased by 21% since 2005 (UNAIDS, 2011).  

While these are encouraging statistics, there are still parts of the world including our own country in which the epidemic rages on.  The number of new HIV infections continues to rise in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Oceania, the Middle-East, and North Africa.   Here in the US - we still see rises in certain urban centers (particularly among African Americans and men who have sex with men) and, overall, we see an increase in HIV infections in the South-east (particularly in poorest areas).

Poverty is still a major predictor of risk of HIV infection.  The poor, disenfranchised, stigmatized, and marginalized bear the overall burden of disease and HIV remains a serious threat.  Thus racial and sexual minorities are still very much at risk.  Youth in these groups are particularly vulnerable.   

While we need to address the serious issues of poverty, discrimination, prejudice, and the lack of basic sexual rights, we know that even the disenfranchised can be empowered through comprehensive sexuality education and access to preventative services.  We need to put HIV prevention in the context of a comprehensive sexuality approach.

We can be encouraged by the fact that when youth are educated with comprehensive sexuality education, they are more likely to delay the onset of sexual intercourse and use condoms.  We know that condoms are highly effective in preventing the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.  While the effects of stigma and discrimination are still a powerful force, comprehensive sexuality education can lead to empowerment.

We need an HIV-prevention approach that is sex-positive recognizing that people have a basic instinct and drive to be sexual and that beyond the reproductive utility of sexual activity, people are motivated to experience pleasure and that sex is a fundamental form of communication and expressing intimacy.  We have spent too much time on de-sexualizing HIV prevention, now it is time to promote what I have termed "sexualized HIV prevention."  Let's bring positive sexuality back into HIV prevention - and let's focus on the marginalized populations and empower them to enjoy a fulfilling and pleasurable sexual life.

Eli Coleman, PhD
Director and Professor
Chair in Sexual Health

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Researcher Jae Sevelius, PhD, visits PHS

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SEVELIUS-BP.jpgAugust 1 - 5, 2011, Jae Sevelius, PhD, visited PHS to meet with one of her project advisors, Walter Bockting, PhD, and to learn about our transgender research and transgender health clinic.

Bockting is working with Sevelius on her NIH/NIMH-funded K-Award project to assess HIV risk behaviors and protective factors among transgender women of color to develop a culturally specific HIV prevention intervention for this high-risk, underserved population. 

The current focus of her K research is examining how the need for gender affirmation (a psychosocial dimension that refers to transgender women's desire for validation and support of their gender identity and expression) interacts with access to gender affirmation (their access to this type of validation and support) to promote or protect against risky health behaviors.  Sevelius is in year 3 of a 5-year grant.

Sevelius presented her research project to PHS faculty and staff.  She said, "I am passionate about promoting health and wellness within transgender communities. That certainly includes addressing health disparities, such as the egregious rates of HIV among transgender women of color, but also includes bringing resources to trans communities to support overall sexual health, mental health, holistic well-being, and spirituality."

She added, "One of the most rewarding aspects of my work so far has been witnessing the direct impact of the sexual health promotion intervention that I am developing for transgender women of color." Sevelius and two research assistants, Danielle Castro and Angel Ventura, conducted a pilot study of the intervention this year.  Sevelius said that she was, "astounded by the intensity of the positive response we got from participants. It is a peer-led intervention so I was just an observer, but there were many moments that I was brought to tears by what I witnessed during the course of these small-group sessions. The participants shared so much of themselves, supported one another through difficult disclosures, and struggled together to find connection and love through the traumas they have faced and continue to face in an ongoing way, even in a place that is as reputedly liberal as San Francisco. The participants were so grateful for the opportunity to come together in that way and learn from each other and the wonderful facilitators."

Sevelius is an advocate for systematic change for the wellness of the transgender community. She is hopeful that an increased visibility for the community will lead to an increased commitment to address the severe inequities and systemic transphobia that are pervasive. Sevelius said, "Unfortunately, I think we still have a long way to go here in the US in that we still do not collect trans-inclusive data that provides us with the essential big picture perspective that would allow us to really frame the issues accurately.  Health care providers are not adequately educated about the needs of trans people, and violence and discrimination are absolutely rampant. We need to start by acknowledging the existence of trans people on a national level by capturing their unique circumstances and needs in a systematic way."

Sevelius is an Assistant Professor with the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) in the Department of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco, and Co-Principal Investigator of the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, which promotes increased access to culturally competent health care for transgender people through research, training, and advocacy. With funding from the California HIV/AIDS Research Program, building on work of the Transitions Project and in collaboration with API Wellness' TRANS:THRIVE program, Sevelius is also working to adapt and evaluate the evidence-based HIV prevention intervention SISTA (Sisters Informing Sisters about Topics on AIDS) for transgender women of color.  Another CHRP-funded project of Sevelius' is a qualitative investigation of the barriers to HIV treatment engagement and adherence among transgender women living with HIV. 

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The faculty of the Program in Human Sexuality invite you to explore the latest in sexual health research. PHS faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and research collaborators present their work at our monthly Faculty Research Presentations. Join us on the following days at 12-1 PM at PHS, 1300 South 2nd Street, Room 142, Minneapolis, MN 55454. To reserve your seat or to request notice of future presentations please email phsresearch@umn.edu.



You can now listen to past presentations on the PHS website.

Sharon-Lund.jpgJuly 14, 2010
Sharon Lund, PhD

"From Their Perspectives . . . East African-born Men Living with HIV/AIDS in Minnesota"

The number of new HIV infections diagnosed among African-born persons in Minnesota has steadily increased since the mid-1990s. African-born persons make up less that 1% of the Minnesota population, yet they accounted for 11% of new HIV infections in 2009. Currently, there are 374 confirmed cases of African-born HIV seropositive males living in Minnesota. This presentation will describe how East African-born men in the Twin Cities metro area are living with HIV/AIDS through in-depth, face-to-face personal interviews with a sample of East African-born HIV seropositive men and others who interact and know this community. The purpose of this study is to understand the risk factors, sexual behaviors, and context of HIV transmission among East African-born HIV seropositive men living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area in order to design and tailor effective evidence-based HIV prevention intervention programs and services for this population.


Zach-White.jpgAugust 11, 2010
G. Zachariah White, PsyD

"Successful Resolution of Sexual-Religious Identity Conflict: A Qualitative Study of Processes and Outcomes"

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Pandora's-Box-BP.jpgThe 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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Alex-Iantaffi-BP.jpgThe US Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) has set three primary goals for the US National HIV/AIDS Strategy 1) reduce HIV incidence 2) increase access to care and optimize health outcomes and 3) reduce HIV-related health disparities.  To reach these goals, the Administration has sought input from a broad range of perspectives and stakeholders through the Presidential Advisory Council, national HIV/AIDS community discussions, and an online call to action for community input.  

On October 2, 2009, one of the 14 national HIV/AIDS community discussions was hosted in Minneapolis at the Zurah Shrine Center.  The event started with a brief introduction by Jeffrey Crowley, Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy and Senior Advisor on Disability Policy at the White House followed by a statement from Senator Al Franken.  The discussion was then turned over to community participants including local experts, advocates, care providers, and individuals affected by HIV/AIDS.  Speakers affiliated with PHS included Hale Thompson, research assistant; Andrea Jenkins, AGHO Advisory Board member; Alex Iantaffi, postdoctoral fellow; Sharon Lund, former research assistant; and Fatima Jama, research partner.  Many people spoke of the diverse needs regarding prevention and care throughout Minnesota and the nation.

There are three more community events scheduled this year including Ft. Lauderdale, FL on November 20; New York, NY on December 4; and Caguas, Puerto Rico on December 14.  After that the ONAP will synthesize the input from community discussions, the online Call to Action, and expert meetings to create a more focused HIV/AIDS policy draft.  There will again be an opportunity for community input once the draft is available.

Two related efforts by the White House include reauthorization of the Ryan White Act on October 30, 2009, and new guidelines were released for the global work of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, on September 14, 2009.  These guidelines open the door to linking AIDS efforts to family planning.

View the video of the Minnesota community event and learn more about the work of the ONAP.

PHOTO:  Alex Iantaffi

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the HIV/AIDS category.

Gender Identity is the previous category.

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