Elton John Foundation awards research grant to the AIDS Coalition of Alabama for project in Lowndes County

Published 6:58 pm Friday, January 15, 2016

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Special to the Lowndes Signal
The Elton John Foundation located in New York City has awarded a one-year $25,000 grant to the AIDS Coalition of Alabama Project (ACAP) in December 2015 to pilot an innovative HIV/AIDS research project which will focus on youth between the ages of 13-24 in Lowndes County.
ACAP is made up of a coalition of organizations and individuals aimed at decreasing and preventing HIV/AIDS in African Americans in Alabama. ACAP partners include AframSouth Inc. (Montgomery), Selma Air (Selma), Alabama State University Center for Leadership and Public Policy (Montgomery), Aletheia House (Birmingha m), Central Alabama AIDS Resource & Advocacy Center (Wetumpka), Community Faith Partners (Huntsville), and persons living with HIV.
The project in Lowndes County will be called “Working to Improve Sexual Education (Project WISE).”
According to AframSouth Inc., Lowndes County has a population of approximately 11,299 of which 74 percent are African American and 31.4 percent live in poverty with a median income of $23,050 according to the 2010 US Census.
“During three of the past five years, Lowndes County has had the largest incidence rate of HIV/AIDS in the state,” AframSouth Inc. reports. “ Additionally, the pregnancy rate in the county for girls and women 10 to 19 years of age was higher (37.8/1000 live births) than the state average (24.2/1000 live births) (Alabama Department of Public Health, 2015).”
According to AframSouth Inc., the goal of Project WISE is to reduce the incidence rate of HIV/AIDS and prevent HIV/AIDS in Lowndes County. And “Using an innovative community-based approach, Project WISE will target a population that is vastly underserved in addressing and preventing HIV/AIDS. In addition, Project WISE will engage youth, youth groups, parents, school officials, churches and community leaders. A community advisory board will also be established to provide guidance for Project WISE participants.”
It also reports that the principle investigators for Project WISE are Associate Professor Pamela Payne Foster, MD, MPH, Department of Community and Rural Medicine and Deputy Director, Institute for Rural Health Research, College of Community Health Sciences at the University of Alabama, and Mel Prince, executive director for Selma Air, an AIDS services organization based in Selma, Alabama, which serves rural African-American populations.

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