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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, December 7, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesUVI Receives Substance Abuse/HIV Prevention Grant

UVI Receives Substance Abuse/HIV Prevention Grant

A $900,000 federal grant will allow the University of the Virgin Islands to develop and implement a substance abuse and HIV prevention program, the university announced Thursday.

The goal of the program will be to reduce drug use and abuse and prevent the transmission of HIV infections among college students and other young adults in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The territory is ranked second in the nation for reported HIV cases per capita, according to the V.I. Department of Health. The new program will target HIV-related risk factors such as substance abuse – primarily alcohol and marijuana – among college students and young adults in the community, according to program director Doris Battiste.

Battiste, UVI’s dean of students on the St. Thomas Campus, said the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is providing $300,000 per year for three years through its Division of Community Programs to support the territorywide effort.

“This grant recognizes the prevalence of substance abuse and the high rate of HIV infection in the Virgin Islands,” she said. “Surveys show that alcohol is the main drug of choice on college campuses nationwide, and UVI is no different. It’s a problem on our campus and in our community and we need to address it. The consequences of alcohol abuse lead to poor decision making, irresponsible behavior, domestic violence, sexual assault, and lower GPA when compared to those who do not drink.”

Following alcohol, the illegal use of marijuana is the second biggest substance use issue here, she said.

The program hopes to reach African American and Hispanic students between the ages of 18 and 24 on UVI’s campuses on St. Thomas and St. Croix, as well as other young adults throughout the territory. Early objectives are to increase the number of individuals getting tested for HIV for the first time and decreasing the consumption of alcohol and other drugs.

Battiste said over the next three years the grant will allow UVI to build partnerships with non-student, community-based organizations such as HOPE Inc. (Helping Others in a Positive Environment), the V.I. Association for Independent Living, and the Access to Racial and Cultural Health Institute on St. Croix, as well as the Virgin Islands Department of Health’s Division of Mental Health, Alcoholism and Drug Dependency,

The project, which continues through the fall of 2016, will also help increase the amount of on- and off-campus outreach events and activities conducted in the territory.

Dr. Battiste added that in the future the program will include a major media component – including radio and TV public service announcements, and the recruitment of participants from specific groups, such as individuals with physical disabilities or at-risk male populations.

More information about the UVI Substance Abuse and HIV Prevention Program, is available by contacting the program’s staff at 1-340-693-1120 or 1-340-693-1122.

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