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SU receives $900,000 grant to fight HIV/AIDS, substance abuse



Southern University's Dr. Alma Thornton, director of the Center for Social Research, has been awarded a three-year, $900,000 federal grant to assist in the prevention of HIV/AIDS and substance abuse.


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently awarded the funding.


The goal of the project is to provide integrated substance abuse and HIV prevention programs to African-American college students, ages 18-24, and non-collegiate young adults in the communities around Southern at risk of substance abuse and HIV/AIDS.


Dr. Cecil Duncan, in the Psychology Department, is the co-author and Co-Director of the HIV/AIDs Prevention Award. 


The Baton Rouge metropolitan area has been cited as having the highest number of new HIV diagnoses and rates.


"Southern University HIV/AIDS and Substance Abuse Program represents an effort by the university to work within the community," Thornton said.  "With our partners, we share resources, expertise and the common goal of improving our neighborhood."


"As an anchor institution in the Scotlandville Community, Southern University works collaboratively with community residents and leaders to develop and implement programs that improve the conditions and quality of life of community residents," Thornton said.   


Partners will conduct a community-based needs assessment on the SU campus and surrounding community to identify risks and protective factors, community resources as well as gaps in services.


The project is designed to have a significant impact on SA as well as HIV/AIDS transmission in the targeted areas.


"I'm excited about this. I think it's just awesome," said Shirley Lolis, the executive director of Metro Health, a local agency partnering with Southern in the outreach program.


Metro Health will be testing and offering educational and risk-reduction services, Lolis said, adding that the Scotlandville had been lacking preventive services.


"This will fill in the gap in that area," she said.