September 17, 2013
The Silver School of Social Work’s Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health (CLAFH) has been awarded funding to support the delivery of a family-based HIV prevention program for youth in the Caribbean.
CLAFH is co-directed by Silver professors Vincent Guilamo Ramos and James Jaccard.
The grant comes from the MAC AIDS Fund, an organization with a long-term commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS in the region. Sharing this goal, CLAFH has maintained ongoing research and programmatic activities targeting HIV prevention in the Dominican Republic, which accounts for 70 percent of the region’s HIV/AIDS disease burden. The Caribbean has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence outside of Sub-Saharan Africa.
CLAFH’s project directly addresses the unmet prevention needs of youth in the Dominican Republic by adapting the delivery of the Center’s Families Talking Together (FTT) program. FTT has been shown to lower sexual risk behavior among Latino youth in high prevalence communities in the United States. One reason FTT has been so successful is that it recognizes the important role family plays in the lives of adolescents. Traditional approaches to HIV prevention target the adolescent directly, while FTT utilizes the family as a support system to buffer against environmental and social risk factors that can lead to sexual risk behavior. The MAC-funded project will tailor this program to the local Dominican context by incorporating specific content related to local risk factors for HIV transmission, such as the tourism industry and the correspondingly high rates of drug and alcohol use and sex work.
With 1.8 billion youth living in the world today—the largest number in history—adolescents have a major role to play in HIV/AIDS prevention. Youth are among the most highly at-risk populations and account for 42 percent of all new HIV infections globally. The vast majority of the world’s youth, 90 percent, live in low- and middle-income countries such as the Dominican Republic. Despite this, most evidence-based HIV prevention efforts have been developed in high-income country settings, with few adapted or developed for youth.
Evidence-based programs that focus directly on the family as a critical determinant in a teen’s life, and which can be effectively adapted across settings, are crucial for addressing the HIV epidemic in the Dominican Republic and beyond.