Completed and Ongoing Research

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HIV and Incarceration in Illinois Prisons (Completed)
The Institute was mandated by the Illinois General Assembly under the African American HIV/AIDS Response Act, P.L. 94-0629 of 2005, to explore the plausible link between incarceration and HIV infection. 
* Phase I (Completed)- a cross sectional study to determine the prevalence of high-risk HIV transmission behaviors in Illinois prisons. See Executive Summary

CSU Students Study (Completed)
The HIV/AIDS Research and Policy Institute at CSU recently concluded a cross-sectional study of CSU students to determine the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of college students regarding HIV prevention. See Student Study Group Survey.

Focus Group of City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) Students (Completed)
Dr. Esther Jenkins of the department of psychology under a mini grant from the Institute conducted a series of focus groups with female African American students at two campuses of the City Colleges of Chicago. See Focus Group Summary.

HIV Prevention Policies in State Prison Systems—Focus on Peer Education (Completed)

We surveyed state prison officials to 1) assess HIV testing and HIV prevention policies in the 50 states, and 2) determine whether those policies are associated with the characteristics of the state and its prison population.  Qualitative data collected from a subset of state prison systems were used to explore reasons why some states have recently adopted peer education and other HIV prevention programs, while others have ended them. We found that peer education programs are perceived as highly effective but there remain barriers to their widespread adoption.

Ongoing Research

Feasibility and Acceptability of an HIV Prevention Intervention in a Jail Setting

The prevalence rate of HIV in jails and prisons nationally is approximately 5 times the rate in the general population.  Most of this elevated HIV prevalence in jails and prisons is likely due to pre-incarceration behavior rather than sexual or drug-related transmission within the institution.  The current project is part of a larger project to adapt peer outreach models for drug treatment programs in jails and prisons.  In peer outreach models such as Self-Help in Eliminating Life-threatening Diseases (SHIELD) participants are trained to be Peer Educators and are taught strategies to reduce HIV risk, as well as communication skills to teach these strategies to family, friends and other members of their social networks. It is as yet unknown whether training in peer outreach can be adapted for jails or prisons.  Data for the adaptation of the SHIELD curriculum for a jail setting will be collected through qualitative focus groups and individual interviews with recently incarcerated individuals. 

HIV Provider Cultural Competency

This formative research project seeks to understand the skills, workforce composition, and structural factors that influence culturally competent HIV care for African American patients.

Urban Mindfulness & Addictions Research

The HIV/AIDS Research and Policy Institute is home to the Urban Mindfulness and Addictions Research (CUMAR) program. This five-year program is funded by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The program seeks to understand how Mindfulness Meditation can assist in preventing relapse among recovering drug users involved in the criminal justice system.

CUMAR is structured around four studies ranging from the neurochemistry and the neuroscience of mindfulness; to meditation as a tool for substance abuse case managers as they approach their work; to meditation as a strategy for substance abusers as they seek to remain clean and sober and improve their health. CUMAR reaches across disciplines at CSU and promotes participation and cooperation among scholars from Pharmacy, Health Studies, Social Work, and Psychology.