2011-12 International Research Seed Fund Award Winners - GLOBAL HEALTH

In consultation with an ad hoc advisory committee, a one-time dispersal of funds was made in 2010-11 for a proposal to stimulate a major new interdisciplinary environmental initiative in collaboration with global peers and to foster a robust institutional partnership in the global environmental field.

"Social and Demographic Context of HIV/AIDS Risk in Young and Migrant Populations in China: Development of Brown University – Anhui Medical University Partnership for Global Health”

This proposal aims to stimulate collaboration between faculty at Anhui Medical University (AMU; China) and Brown University, leading to the development of NIH-funded research addressing the overlap of HIV/AIDS, substance use, and mental health problems in young and migrant adult populations in China. The proposal will advance international exchange between our institutions, yielding tremendous capacity to conduct collaborative US-China global health research for many years.

During the past decade China has undergone exceptional growth and social development, and has also experienced a surge in HIV/AIDS infection. In 2008, HIV/AIDS accounted for more deaths than any other infectious disease in China.1,2 HIV/AIDS has shifted from an epidemic among mostly injection drug users (IDU), which characterized the early national epidemic, to a sexually transmitted epidemic.1 Public health interventions, guided by multidisciplinary understandings of social and epidemiological transmission factors, are urgently needed. Investigators from AMU (Zhang) and Brown (Operario) have previously collaborated on an intervention research study to train physicians on integrating HIV and STI prevention counseling and treatment services in routine medical care in China’s Anhui Province, in order to reduce STI incidence in adults seeking clinical care. Preliminary results of this research are encouraging and suggest an opportunity to further expand the scope of investigation by conducting community-based research in high-risk communities for HIV/STI transmission in China. Specifically, we propose to focus on young adult and migrant communities in the capital city Hefei (Anhui Province), a rapidly developing urban setting in Eastern China. 

This proposal will build upon the PIs’ existing strengths in the areas of HIV/AIDS research (Drs. Zhang, Zaller and Operario), health behavior change interventions (Drs. Zhang and Operario), substance use (Dr. Zaller) and cultural and psychosocial development among migrants and young adults (Drs. Rivas-Drake and Operario).

Specific Aims are:

1. To assess the level of sexual risk, alcohol and other substance use, and mental health needs at randomly selected high-risk environments/venues where young migrants congregate in Hefei, China;

2. To understand the social, cognitive, economic, and demographic factors related to HIV-related risk behaviors based on a survey sample of young migrants (n=300) in Hefei recruited from community venues in Hefei, China;

3. To understand the lived experiences associated with HIV risk based on in-depth qualitative interviews of young migrants (n=15) in Hefei;

4. To develop an R01 application to the NIH aiming to develop/test a risk reduction intervention for preventing HIV transmission and co-occurring risks among young migrants in Hefei, China.

PI:Don Operario, Associate Professor
Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Co-PIs:Deborah Rivas-Drake, Assistant Professor
Department of Education

Nickolas Zaller, Assistant Professor
Department of Infectious Diseases

Award: $50,000