Following on its 2003 study of people over the age of 50 with HIV, ACRIA's Research Department has begun work on the ROAH (Research on Older Adults with HIV) Program. The 1,000-person cohort study, the largest ever conducted on this often overlooked segment of the HIV population, will begin three months of data collection in mid-April. The study will investigate the type and adequacy of the health support networks available to older HIV-positive individuals. It will examine such issues as caregiving, stigmatization, depression, and understanding medical tests, as well as the availability and quality of medical, mental health, and social services and the organizations that provide them. ROAH will mark the first time that detailed data on sexual and drug-using behaviors will be collected from this age group. ROAH study participants are from New York City, where people over 50 now account for 27 percent of those living with the virus, and their demographics mirror that population.
ACRIA and FIAR (Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research) recently submitted a grant proposal to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) to study alternative treatments for high lipid levels in people using HAART. The proposed study would compare the effects of a combination of herbal and nutritional supplements that may lower lipid levels with a commonly used lipid lowering drug (pravastatin). If funded, this one-year cross-over study will be conducted at ACRIA.
In June, ACRIA Treatment Educators will journey to North Carolina to conduct four days of intensive HIV treatment education training for 25 peers and professionals from AIDS service organizations in and around the city of Charlotte. The training, which we have conducted in regions across the country, is part of ACRIA's National HIV Treatment Education Technical Assistance Program. It includes both treatment information and skills-building exercises to equip participants to provide treatment information to HIV-positive individuals. The comprehensive curriculum includes overviews of the immune system and HIV/AIDS and such topics as opportunistic infections, antiretroviral therapy, drug side effects, and adherence. Group exercises, role-plays, and case studies give participants the opportunity to develop and apply practical skills. In addition to ongoing support for participants, ACRIA treatment educators will return to Charlotte about three months later for a follow-up training, and up to three participants will be invited to come to New York for a week of additional training. ACRIA's National Technical Assistance Program is funded by Ortho Biotech.
New York City's HIV Health and Human Services Planning Council has changed the priorities for the city's Ryan White Title I funds, and ACRIA's core treatment education activities face a financial crisis. Since 1999, ACRIA has received Title I funding, now totaling $331,605 per year, to conduct group workshops in English and Spanish to clients and staff of community-based organizations (CBOs) and to provide in-depth one-on-one treatment education counseling. Last year we conducted 375 group workshops for clients at 63 CBOs and healthcare facilities, with attendance of 7,300, and 47 trainings for over 700 counselors, case managers, clinicians, and other staff from more than 50 organizations. And we counseled 690 people with HIV individually. Now, however, the Planning Council has eliminated community-based treatment education as a funding category, putting these vital services in jeopardy.
ACRIA has mounted a campaign to make up the lost funding. We are exploring foundation and corporate funding sources as well as other possible government funding. We have appealed directly to elected officials where we work, asking for discretionary funds. And we are seeking private benefactors.
Our efforts are being greatly aided by the support of the CBOs that use our treatment education services and who have written and pledged their support: Addiction Research and Treatment Corporation (ARTC), African Services Committee, AIDS Center of Queens County (ACQC), AIDS Service Center NYC, The Bridge, Dominican Sisters Family Health Service, Exponents, The Floating Hospital, The Fortune Society, Harlem United, Housing Works, Odyssey House, The Osborne Association, Promesa Systems, Safe Space, St. Elizabeth Ann's Health Care & Rehabilitation Center, SMART University, Turning Point, and Village Care of New York.
New York City Councilmember Christine C. Quinn has been named the recipient of the second annual ACRIA Community Advisory Board (CAB) Community Hero Award in honor of her many years of public service and leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS. ACRIA's HIV work has been greatly enhanced by Quinn's support and advocacy, particularly in her leadership role as Chair of the Council's Health Committee. Thousands have benefited from her efforts on behalf of all New Yorkers, particularly the most vulnerable -- veterans, people of color, women, the homeless, children and adolescents, transgender and gender-variant individuals -- and people with HIV. The award will be presented by City Council Speaker Gifford Miller on April 18 at a ceremony at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in Manhattan.
This article was provided by AIDS Community Research Initiative of America. It is a part of the publication ACRIA Update. Visit ACRIA's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.