Binghamton Professor Collaborates on $3.1 Million Grant to Address HIV in African American/Black and Latinx Youth

A new $3.1-million, four-year grant co-led by faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York could help African American and Latinx youth living with HIV.

The study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — part of the National Institutes of Health — seeks to understand specific factors that promote or impede behaviors that comprise engagement along the HIV care continuum (HCC) and how they operate and interplay over time among African American/Black and Latinx (AABL) youth and emerging adults living with HIV (YEA-LWH). Binghamton University Professor of Human Development Leo Wilton and NYU Silver Professor and Associate Dean for Research Marya Gwadz are principal investigators on the grant.

“We need a multi-level intersectional approach to eliminate racial and ethnic inequities in healthcare, as there are structural, historical and cultural factors that impact youth of color receiving HIV primary care,” said Wilton.

“Through our research, we aim to highlight the issues that lead to this disparity, and to promote better engagement along the HIV care continuum among Black and Latinx youth living with HIV.”

The longitudinal mixed-methods study will engage 270 youths and emerging adults, half with HIV viral suppression and half without at enrollment, recruited from New York City and Newark, N.J. Unlike most past studies with youth and emerging adults living with HIV, participants will be recruited mainly from real-world and community-based settings rather than from the subset well-engaged in HIV care. Participants will be followed for over a year using structured quantitative assessments, in-depth qualitative interviews, biomarkers (HIV viral load, drug use) and ecological momentary assessments to uncover, describe and better understand factors contributing to trajectories of engagement along the HCC over time.

“Young people 16-28 years-old living with HIV have the lowest rates of engagement along the HCC of any age group,” said Gwadz. “Moreover, the challenges of retention in care, adherence to antiretroviral therapy and other steps along the HCC that are necessary for achieving and maintaining HIV viral suppression are particularly pronounced among AABL YEA-LWH, including sexual/gender minorities, those who use alcohol and drugs and individuals from low socioeconomic status backgrounds.”

As the study is conducted, a Youth Advisory Board and scientific advisors will develop and disseminate actionable recommendations for policy, healthcare settings and interventions based on the findings.

“We cannot end the HIV epidemic in the United States without continuous enhancements to and innovations in the policies, healthcare practices and interventions that support consistent engagement along the healthcare continuum among African American/Black and Latinx (AABL) youth and emerging adults living with HIV,” said Wilton.

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