Three Major Grants Fund Col­lab­o­ra­tions with the BPHC and­Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Boston, Mass. — HIV, AIDS, sub­stance abuse and mental ill­ness in urban pop­u­la­tions are com­plex issues that affect mil­lions of people, including preg­nant and post­partum women. Com­bating these prob­lems require strong research-​​community part­ner­ships and a mul­ti­fac­eted approach, including the com­pre­hen­sive research studies Northeastern’s Insti­tute on Urban Health Research (IUHR) is well-​​known for. The IUHR announced the funding of 3 grants to con­duct two projects in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Boston Public Health Com­mis­sion and another project with the Brigham and Women’s Hos­pital. The grants in the amount of almost $3 mil­lion are to design clin­ical treat­ment and inter­ven­tion pro­grams and eval­uate their effec­tive­ness for greater Boston area minority pop­u­la­tions affected by sub­stance abuse, mental health, HIV/​AIDS and other infec­tious dis­ease problems.

Our Insti­tute has a long his­tory of close col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Boston Public Health Com­mis­sion to design, imple­ment, and eval­uate sub­stance abuse treat­ment pro­grams for African-​​American and Latina women,” said Hort­ensia Amaro, Director of the IUHR and prin­cipal inves­ti­gator on the three grants. “We are thrilled to have the oppor­tu­nity through these grants to con­tinue our work in the areas of treat­ment, inter­ven­tion and edu­ca­tion of under­served populations.”

For over 18 years, the City’s Health Depart­ment has enjoyed a strong col­lab­o­ra­tive working rela­tion­ship with Dr. Amaro and together we have devel­oped and imple­mented inno­v­a­tive projects and cre­ative solu­tions to gaps in ser­vices for women,” said Dr. Bar­bara Ferrer, Ph.D., MPH, M.Ed., Exec­u­tive Director for the Boston Public Health Com­mis­sion. “We look for­ward to working with IUHR in the imple­men­ta­tion of this project.”

One of the awards, a $2.5 mil­lion grant, called Moving on to Recovery and Empow­er­ment (MORE) is funded by the Sub­stance Abuse and Mental Health Ser­vices Admin­is­tra­tion (SAMHSA). This project is col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Boston Public Health Commission’s (BPHC) Women and Fam­i­lies Sub­stance Abuse Ser­vices Divi­sion. Its goal is to develop a new Inten­sive Out­pa­tient Treat­ment (IOT) pro­gram to reduce HIV infec­tion among African-​​American and Latina women with co-​​occurring dis­or­ders of addic­tion, mental ill­ness and trauma. The main objec­tives of MORE include pro­viding com­pre­hen­sive HIV/​AIDS pre­ven­tion and health-​​care linkage ser­vices; cre­ating a much needed IOT site in Boston and state-​​of-​​the-​​art, evidence-​​based sub­stance abuse ser­vices that are acces­sible to women in need of treat­ment; and devel­oping col­lab­o­ra­tions with health­care insti­tu­tions and com­mu­nity agencies.

The activ­i­ties pro­posed by the MORE project will sig­nif­i­cantly expand out­pa­tient sub­stance abuse treat­ment ser­vices for women in the Boston area,” said Rita Nieves, RN, MPH, MSW, Director of the Sub­stance Abuse Ser­vices Bureau of the Boston Public Health Com­mis­sion. “This com­pre­hen­sive, gender and cul­tur­ally spe­cific treat­ment model will fill and urgent gap by increasing access to treat­ment for an addi­tional 70 African Amer­ican and Latina women per year.”

The inad­e­quate supply of HIV health pro­mo­tion and inter­ven­tion ser­vices also con­tribute to health dis­par­i­ties in HIV infec­tion and treat­ment access. As part of a $214,663, two-​​year funding from the National Insti­tute of Mental Health (NIMH), the IUHR will col­lab­o­rate with clin­i­cians from Brigham and Women’s Hos­pital to develop and test a pro­gram called Health Pro­mo­tion through Empow­er­ment (HOPE), an enhanced HIV health pro­mo­tion and adher­ence inter­ven­tion being devel­oped using a Community-​​Based Par­tic­i­pa­tory Research approach This award is a sub­con­tract under a larger col­lab­o­ra­tion between the Brigham & Women’s Hos­pital and Part­ners in Health (Boston-​​based non­profit) for the Pre­ven­tion and Access to Care and Treat­ment (PACT) project directed by Dr. Heidi Behforouz, M.D.

PACT is an existing community-​​based HIV health pro­mo­tion pro­gram that has suc­cess­fully used the con­cept of peer health pro­mo­tion to address the needs of this pop­u­la­tion in Boston’s under­served neigh­bor­hoods,” said Behforouz, Assis­tant Pro­fessor, Har­vard Med­ical School and Asso­ciate Physi­cian at Divi­sion of Social Med­i­cine and Health Inequal­i­ties at Brigham and Women’s Hos­pital. “This new funding will enable us to tailor and improve our inter­ven­tion approaches to increase med­ica­tions adher­ence among HIV infected patients.”

At present, few estab­lished HIV health pro­mo­tion inter­ven­tions exist that com­pre­hen­sively address the poor, minority, and non-​​adherent HIV-​​positive indi­vid­uals and have been val­i­dated in effi­cacy trials,” adds Amaro. “This study enables the devel­op­ment and pilot testing of an enhanced HIV health pro­mo­tion inter­ven­tion pri­marily designed by com­mu­nity health pro­moters and mar­gin­al­ized HIV-​​positive patients.”

The third grant, funded by SAMHSA is for a one-​​year study on Preg­nant and Post­partum Women and their Infants (PPWI) addresses an iden­ti­fied need to expand res­i­den­tial sub­stance abuse treat­ment ser­vices for Latina women within the greater Boston area. The PPWI model will be imple­mented in Entre Familia, a res­i­den­tial treat­ment pro­gram within the Boston Public Health Com­mis­sion and will pro­vide out­reach, treat­ment engage­ment and reten­tion; prenatal/​postpartum edu­ca­tion and par­enting edu­ca­tion; and trauma treat­ment. Amaro and the BPHC team are hopeful that the imple­men­ta­tion of this pro­gram, lessons learned and out­comes will lead to decreased inci­dence of sub­stance abuse among PPW Latinas, as well as improve­ment of preg­nancy and birth out­comes, health of mothers and chil­dren, and par­enting skills.

For more infor­ma­tion about the grants and the Insti­tute on Urban Health Research, please con­tact Renata Nyul at 617–373-7424 or at r.​nyul@​neu.​edu.

About North­eastern

Founded in 1898, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is a pri­vate research uni­ver­sity located in the heart of Boston. North­eastern is a leader in inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research, urban engage­ment, and the inte­gra­tion of class­room learning with real-​​world expe­ri­ence. The university’s dis­tinc­tive coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram, where stu­dents alter­nate semes­ters of full-​​time study with semes­ters of paid work in fields rel­e­vant to their pro­fes­sional inter­ests and major, is one of the largest and most inno­v­a­tive in the world. The Uni­ver­sity offers a com­pre­hen­sive range of under­grad­uate and grad­uate pro­grams leading to degrees through the doc­torate in six under­grad­uate col­leges, eight grad­uate schools, and two part-​​time divi­sions. For more infor­ma­tion, please visit www​.north​eastern​.edu.