HIV study tar­gets gangs

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS -

Street gangs have long been known for bring­ing il­licit drugs, un­reg­is­tered guns and ter­ri­to­rial graf­fiti to city streets, but an aca­demic re­searcher says they’re an ef­fi­cient vec­tor for an­other so­cial ill: HIV.

A team at the Med­i­cal Col­lege of Wis­con­sin has re­ceived a $2.1 mil­lion grant from the Na­tional In­sti­tute on Drug Abuse to study risk fac­tors and po­ten­tial in­ter­ven­tions for gang mem­bers who might spread HIV in Mil­wau­kee com­mu­ni­ties, the Jour­nal Sen­tinel re­ported. The pri­mary in­ves­ti­ga­tor quoted in the news­pa­per ar­ti­cle, Ju­lia Dickson-gomez, said few stud­ies have ex­am­ined the fact that gang mem­bers are among the high­est at-risk groups to con­tract and spread HIV. In par­tic­u­lar, she noted that most youth HIVoutreach ef­forts take place at school, which many gang mem­bers do not at­tend.

The study also will ex­am­ine whether cer­tain gang pro­to­cols in­flu­ence HIV risks, in­clud­ing whether the or­ga­ni­za­tions in­clude fe­males and whether the group pro­hibits the use of cer­tain drugs or con­doms. Study par­tic­i­pants who com­plete a 90-minute in­ter­view will be paid $30 for their time.

It’s an in­ter­est­ing project, though Out­liers can imag­ine the re­ac­tions from some quar­ters upon hear­ing that an arm of the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health is pay­ing gang mem­bers to talk about their sex­ual prac­tices.

GETTY IMAGES

Wis­con­sin re­searchers will be look­ing into HIV risks among gang mem­bers.

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