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UTEP Awarded Grant to Expand Substance Abuse, HIV/AIDS Services

The University of Texas at El Paso has been awarded nearly $1.5 million to expand access to substance abuse treatment capacity to minority women at risk for HIV in low-income communities in El Paso County.

The grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention will fund the project led by Thenral Mangadu, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of public health sciences at UTEP.

The three-year project aims to reach about 5,000 Mexican-American and Native American women ages 18-24 who live with or are at high risk for HIV/AIDS in the El Paso area, particularly in Clint, Fabens, San Elizario and Socorro.

Mangadu will work with the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence (CASFV) and Aliviane Inc. to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate prevention, treatment and HIV recovery support programs in order to reduce HIV and hepatitis C infection and transmission rates and substance abuse use among women in these communities.

“There’s a need for substance abuse treatment expansion in these communities that are distanced from the immediate service area,” Mangadu explained. “Transportation is an issue … so we plan to take prevention, testing and treatment services to the women living in these isolated areas. We also will be looking at the communities they live in to see what in their environment makes them at risk for HIV/AIDS and substance abuse and what factors affect their treatment outcomes.”

Along with community partners Aliviane, the CASFV and the El Paso Department of Public Health, Mangadu plans to integrate substance abuse treatment, violence prevention, safe sex practices, and diet and nutrition counseling to address the multiple factors that place these women at risk for HIV/AIDS and substance abuse.

Researchers also plan to engage participants’ significant others, friends, family and community members to address the impact that violence and trauma have on women’s risk for substance abuse, HIV and hepatitis B and C infections.

This is the second U.S. Department of Health and Human Services SAMHSA grant that Mangadu has received in the past two years. In 2014, she received nearly $900,000 to increase awareness about substance abuse, HIV and hepatitis C among minority young adults in the region.

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