UTEP to develop new initiative to scale back HIV in individuals who use medicine within the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez border

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The College of Texas at El Paso will develop a sustainable public well being intervention to suppress human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in individuals who use medicine within the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez border area to assist gradual the unfold of HIV. The initiative will likely be funded by a $3 million grant from the Nationwide Institutes of Well being (NIH) Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Julia Lechuga, Ph.D., UTEP affiliate professor of public well being sciences, obtained funding to implement a biobehavioral intervention geared toward suppressing the viral load of HIV in individuals who inject medicine in order that the chance of HIV ahead transmission is diminished. The just lately funded research is the following part of Venture Encuentro, a community-based HIV threat discount program in El Paso and Juárez, Mexico, that Lechuga established with help from one other NIH grant she obtained in 2016. Venture Encuentro is a collaboration between UTEP and Programa Compañeros, a Juárez-based social service group.

Regardless of advances in HIV remedy, individuals are nonetheless in danger for getting and transmitting the virus, notably individuals who inject medicine. Our purpose is to scale back the unfold of HIV in our binational neighborhood by offering individuals who use medicine entry to much-needed sources to assist them enhance their well being and their high quality of life.”


Julia Lechuga, Ph.D., UTEP affiliate professor of public well being sciences

In line with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, grownup and adolescents who inject medicine accounted for 10% of the 37,968 new HIV diagnoses in the USA, US territories and the Republic of Palau in 2018.

Researchers, which embody school from the College of California San Francisco, will use a brand new multiphase optimization technique to develop an intervention to enhance adherence to antiretroviral remedy amongst 384 HIV-positive individuals who use medicine in Juárez.

If taken precisely as prescribed, antiretroviral remedy can decrease the quantity of virus, or viral load, within the blood to undetectable ranges.

Over the following 5 years, Lechuga will check 4 interventions to find out which combos are best at serving to individuals who inject medicine and who’re HIV optimistic to suppress their viral load. Methods embody utilizing affected person navigators to assist individuals receive HIV remedy providers, offering psychological remedy to deal with melancholy, enhancing entry to methadone remedy, and providing instructional classes and expertise for treatment adherence.

Maria Elena Ramos, govt director of Programa Compañeros, stated this new challenge will enable the group to implement new interventions to help people who inject medicine and who’re dwelling with HIV adhere to treatment by offering new public well being methods resembling psychological therapies.

“This new research will enable us to adapt evidence-based practices and incorporate them into different efficient remedy fashions,” Ramos stated. “We will even study different instruments to detect and deal with probably the most prevalent psychological well being circumstances resembling melancholy within the inhabitants that we serve.”

The primary NIH grant that Lechuga obtained to fund Venture Encuentro ended earlier this 12 months. Over the previous 5 years, Venture Encuentro has instantly impacted 3,500 individuals on each side of the U.S.-Mexico border. This system supplied HIV testing to individuals who inject heroin or crack and supplied peer community interventions and academic classes to scale back HIV threat amongst individuals who use medicine.

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