The NYU Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health at the Silver School of Social Work will implement and evaluate an innovative community-centered approach to help prevent HIV and substance misuse by minority youth.

Aerial View of Harlem and Bronx
Getty Images / MBPROJEKT@maciej_biedowski

New York University's Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health (CLAFH) at the NYU Silver School of Social Work will implement and evaluate an innovative community-centered approach to help prevent HIV and substance misuse by minority youth in the South Bronx, the nation’s poorest Congressional district, under a five-year, $1 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The comprehensive peer-based program -- Educate, Test, and Navigate (ETN) -- was designed by CLAFH under the direction of Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, a Silver School of Social Work professor and nurse practitioner who specializes in the sexual and reproductive health of youth. Dr. Guilamo-Ramos is a member of the HHS Presidential Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) and is a standing member of the HHS HIV Treatment Guidelines Panel for Adolescents and Adults.

ETN focuses on New York City’s South Bronx, a context of elevated risk for HIV, using integrated activities to reduce HIV risk behavior and substance misuse; increase HIV and substance misuse screening among adolescents and young adults; and increase the proportion of at-risk HIV+ and/or substance misusing adolescents and young adults who are engaged and retained in appropriate clinical services.

The project’s implementation will begin during the Fall of 2020.

The grant is awarded by HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within the framework of the federal Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative to address HIV and the misuse of drugs and alcohol among adolescents and young adults, which remains a pressing public health prevention and treatment priority. The Bronx is one of the 48 counties with the highest HIV burden in the United States and the South Bronx represents a “hotspot” of elevated HIV disparities. The rate of new HIV diagnoses per 100,000 in the South Bronx is 29% higher than in the Bronx overall. Furthermore, the South Bronx alone accounted for more than half of new HIV diagnoses in all Bronx residents under the age of 30 in 2015.

Research suggests substance misuse is associated with increased risk of HIV infection among HIV-negative individuals and decreased likelihood of achieving desired HIV treatment outcomes among HIV-positive individuals, namely engagement and retention in care and sustained viral suppression. Therefore, an integrated programmatic focus on both HIV and substance misuse prevention education, testing, and navigation to prevention and treatment services in geographies hardest hit by the epidemic is central to the success of the federal Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative.

Using ETN, the proposed NYU project will implement a comprehensive set of integrated intervention activities for prevention education, HIV testing, and patient navigation to healthcare services. CLAFH researchers will evaluate program effectiveness over the course of the study

To speak with Dr. Guilamo-Ramos, please contact the NYU press officer listed with this release.