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Kaiser Permanente Awards Grant to CSULB for HIV, Sexually Transmitted Disease Testing

Published: February 1, 2010

Kaiser Permanente (KP) has awarded a $5,000 grant to CSULB’s Center for Behavioral Research and Services (CBRS) for a project that will focus on HIV and sexually transmitted disease testing for high-risk ethnic minority women.

KP announced that more than 60 nonprofit organizations from Kern to San Diego counties received grants totaling more than $750,000 to help fund a wide range of services for people with HIV and AIDS, including youth education, prevention, screening and treatment programs as well as housing assistance and food pantries.

The newly funded CSULB project will recruit 250 African-American women into rapid HIV testing. These women, who are at risk for or have undiagnosed HIV infection, will also receive testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and hepatitis.

“African-American women face a disproportionate risk for HIV and AIDS due to several factors. In fact, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death for African-American women aged 25-34,” noted Dennis Fisher, professor of psychology and director of the CSULB Center for Behavioral Research and Services, which is located off campus on the 1000 block of Atlantic Avenue in Long Beach. “At the same time, the data shows that only a small percentage of this minority population actually receives testing for HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases for that matter.”

Part of the problem in testing this at-risk group for HIV, according to Fisher, is that Los Angeles County employs Behavioral Risk Groups (BRGs), in order to assess HIV risk and provide services. If an individual does not fit into one of the BRGs, that person cannot receive HIV testing services. The CSULB program will offer HIV and STD testing to women who are seeking such testing, but who are ineligible to receive it because they do not fit into a BRG.

“This project will start the process of rectifying that situation, getting more of these at-risk individuals tested and educating them on safer sexual practices,” added Fisher, who will serve as the principal investigator for the project. “The primary outcome we are hoping for with this project, however, is that women with undiagnosed HIV or other STD will receive their confirmatory test result and either received or be referred to medical care.”

In addition to the targeted outreach activities, the center will increase HIV, hepatitis and STD testing through its mobile HIV testing van. The funding for the project also will go toward hiring a staff person, a certified phlebotomist who is an HIV pre-test and post-test counselor certified by the state of California Office of AIDS and the L.A. County Office of AIDS Programs and Policy.

The CSULB Center for Behavioral Research and Services is a multi-function unit of the university and is dedicated to psychosocial research and services related to community health and social problems. The establishment of this unit was prompted and facilitated by the 1993 merger of the CSULB-based AIDS Research and Education Project and the Long Beach AIDS Network, a community-based HIV service organization originally founded by the city of Long Beach’s Department of Health and Human Services.

The center conducts social and behavioral research on health and substance-use related issues. The focus of these studies has been on HIV risk, STDs, and understanding tobacco use among young people. CBRS also operates programs to reduce HIV risk in historically under-served populations.

–Rick Gloady