OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

OSU researcher receives grants for national HIV/STD prevention work

11/09/2009

CORVALLIS, Ore. – An Oregon State University researcher has been awarded more than $2 million in grants to conduct HIV and STD-prevention research.

Peggy Dolcini, an associate professor in the Department of Public Health at OSU, has worked on HIV and STD-prevention research for more than 20 years.

The first grant of $1.2 million was awarded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and is a national study measuring the effectiveness of a community-based HIV and STD-prevention program in 30 locations across the country. (More information OSU ARRA grants can be found at: http://oregonstate.edu/research/ARRA )

The two-year study will look at how effectively an intervention program by the Centers for Disease Control is being delivered, and surveying how organizational factors affect program delivery.

According to Dolcini, this grant is part of the translational research effort of the National Institutes of Health, which moves to take basic science and prevention research findings into everyday applications. She will collaborate on the project with Joseph Catania, a professor, and Stephanie Bernell, an associate professor, both in public health at OSU, as well as the regional STD/HIV Prevention Training Center that serves Oregon, California, Idaho, Arizona, Washington, Nevada, Hawaii, and Alaska.

“We want to know how well this intervention is being delivered in the field,” Dolcini said, adding that the researchers are especially interested in how HIV programs are being administered in rural areas. “We want to see if this program is being delivered in ways that truly meet the needs of the community.”

In addition to the federal recovery act grant, Dolcini was also awarded a $1.3 million grant to conduct HIV and STD-prevention research among inner-city African American teens in San Francisco and Chicago. This research, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, will build on Dolcini’s previous work in this area, including more than a decade of published studies. Catania of OSU, as well as Cherrie Boyer of the University of California-San Francisco, and Gary Harper of DePaul University, are co-investigators on this study.

African American youth are one of the highest risk groups in the United States. According to the CDC, in 2004 HIV/AIDS was the No. 1 cause of death for African American women aged 25-34. And a 2008 CDC study showed that 48 percent of young African American women aged 14-19 were infected with one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (such as human papillomavirus or HPV, chlamydia, herpes simplex virus), compared with 20 percent of white women in the same age group.

Dolcini’s new study builds on her prior research in this area, which has documented the importance of social factors, including friendships and other peer groups, in shaping adolescents’ risk behavior. The three-year study will look at the sex and gender roles in the context of African American urban neighborhoods, with an eye toward understanding how social and developmental factors contribute to gender-related beliefs and behaviors.

“We want to build a better understanding of what factors contribute to adolescents’ ideas about being a young African American man or woman,” Dolcini said. “With a better understanding of these issues, we can develop programs that are tailored to the needs of these youth.”

Dolcini said the longer-term goal with this research is to develop gender-specific HIV-prevention programs for African American teenagers.