The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded Mount Sinai Hospital a $1.2 million federal grant to reduce transmission of HIV in Chicago's West Side neighborhoods.
The grant will fund an HIV prevention program aimed at educating people infected with HIV about lifestyle practices that prevent the spread of the virus. Participants will complete computer-assisted learning exercises and will be paired with HIV-positive peer advocates, who will offer encouragement and guidance about avoiding risky behaviors.
This is reportedly the first time such an approach to HIV prevention will be taken in Chicago and is unique among prevention programs across the nation in urban settings like Chicago's West Side.
'This program represents a shift in the direction of HIV prevention efforts,' says Dr. Nancy Glick of the Infectious Disease Division of Mount Sinai Hospital. 'Traditionally these outreach efforts have been broadly aimed at educating people not infected by HIV about avoiding risky behaviors. This takes a more focused approach because it involves people at greatest risk for spreading the disease.'
The grant is funded under the Ryan White CARE Act's Special Projects of National Significance Program ( SPNSP ) , which supports the development of innovative HIV/AIDS service delivery models that have the potential for replication in other areas, locally and nationally. HHS awarded 15 SPNSP four-year grants totaling $18 million. Mount Sinai was the only Illinois health organization to receive such a grant.
The proportion of the city's AIDS cases on the West Side has increased from 16 percent in 1992-1993 to 23 percent in 1999-2001, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health. Out of all new AIDS cases in West Side communities, 30 percent are female, 87 percent are African-American and 9 percent are Latino.
Mount Sinai's Nancy Glick, MD, served as principal investigator for the grant and will lead the project. This is the third major grant in three years that Mount Sinai has been awarded to fight HIV/AIDS.