Elton John AIDS Foundation Funds Miller School Project to Increase HIV Testing in South Florida

Sonjia Kenya, Ed.D., M.S., M.A., an assistant professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine in the Department of Medicine, has been awarded $200,000 by the Elton John AIDS Foundation to increase HIV testing of black immigrants in South Florida. Kenya proposes to adapt and implement a promising strategy to increase HIV testing rates among blacks in South Florida, a community with one of highest rates of HIV infection in the U.S.

One in three black residents in Miami is an immigrant, with Haitians and Jamaicans representing the majority of all black immigrants in Miami. Though cultural and linguistic norms among African Americans and black immigrants are often quite distinct, most HIV/AIDS disparities research in the U.S. has targeted African Americans.

Building on prior work using community health workers to facilitate home-based rapid HIV testing among African Americans, Kenya’s team will now adapt the strategy to diverse black populations. The aims of the study also include increasing knowledge of HIV transmission and treatment among African American and Caribbean black adults in Miami, and reducing risky behaviors among program participants.

The goals of the study are:

1. Develop an implementation toolkit for a community health worker (CHW)-led home-based HIV rapid testing (HBHRT) intervention program among African American and Caribbean black adults.

2. Use the implementation toolkit to conduct a CHW-led HBHRT initiative among African American and Caribbean black adults in Miami.

3. Increase accurate knowledge regarding HIV transmission and treatment among African American and Caribbean black adults in Miami through community-based HIV awareness events.

4. Reduce HIV risk behaviors among program participants via the provision of a sex-positive HIV prevention educational intervention.

5. Assess the cost-effectiveness of the CHW-led HBHRT by comparing program expenses, rates of completed HIV tests, and linkages to HIV care among those who test positive to those testing positive in clinical HIV testing facilities.

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