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UTSA, UT Health Science Center awarded $900K for substance abuse, HIV research

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(Jan. 24, 2014) -- The UTSA Institute for Health Disparities Research in the College of Liberal and Fine Arts and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Division of Community Pediatrics have been awarded $900,000 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) for a collaborative project in the category of Minority-Serving Institution and Community-Based Organization(s) to prevent and reduce substance abuse (SA) and HIV/AIDS transmission among young adults.

UTSA and the Health Science Center will work with two community-based organizations, Black Effort Against the Threat of AIDS Coalition Trust (BEAT AIDS) and San Antonio Fighting Back (SAFB), which will provide a comprehensive array of substance abuse and HIV/AIDS services to young minority adults. The program is called Oh Snap!

Alcohol and illicit drug use among young adults continues to be an ongoing issue across the nation. Substance abuse in young adults is often accompanied by harmful health, social and academic consequences, which negatively affect those individuals and people in their surrounding communities. Additionally, substance abuse has been linked to increased risky sexual behaviors, resulting in increased likelihood of HIV infection and transmission.

"We are trying to build a program that is culturally competent to address HIV/AIDS and substance abuse problems among 18-24 year olds in the greater San Antonio region," said Thankam Sunil, UTSA professor of sociology, director of the UTSA Institute for Health Disparities Research and project director for Oh Snap!. "This collaboration will allow us to intervene in a number of different ways, either through educational programs, face-to-face interventions or by providing brochures and materials to educate young adults about these high-risk behaviors."

"There is a health phenomenon that is confronting our people and we are trying to figure out ways to help them through these issues," said Tony Scott, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics in the Health Science Center Department of Community Pediatrics in the School of Medicine.

The Oh Snap! program will address the issues of substance abuse and HIV/STD transmission among young adults through a three-pronged strategic model that includes evidence-based SA/HIV education, HIV testing and counseling, and evidence-based environmental prevention strategies. The goal of Oh Snap! is to help young adults make informed decisions that reduce their risk of substance abuse and HIV infection and increase their academic and social success.

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