A four-year, $2.9 million grant to assess the implementation of real-time health intervention to decrease substance use and support HIV prevention strategies in young adults experiencing homelessness, has been awarded to researchers from Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth Houston by the National Institute of Nursing Research, part of the National Institutes of Health.
In the United States, 1 in 10 young adults ages 18-25 will experience homelessness each year. Amplified levels of stress from being displaced can influence unsafe behaviors that may increase substance use and chances of contracting HIV.
The grant will fund “Assessing the use of MY-RIDE, a Just-in-Time Adaptive Intervention, to Improve HIV Prevention and Substance Use in Youth Experiencing Homelessness,” a project led by Diane Santa Maria, DrPH, MSN, RN, dean of Cizik School of Nursing. MY-RIDE is a mobile intervention strategy developed to deliver personalized messaging and behavior feedback based on data collected from an individual’s daily environment, to reduce stress, help manage substance use urge, and navigate risky sexual situations. The proposal scored in the top 1% among those submitted to NIH.
“Youth who are at the highest risk of contracting HIV are also the most likely to experience homelessness, which compounds the problem,” said Santa Maria, The Jane and Robert Cizik Distinguished Chair and Huffington Foundation Endowed Chair in Nursing Education Leadership. “Stress, substance use, and sexual urge are risk factors for having condom-less sex, multiple sexual partners, and using substances before sex, with use being twice as high for youth experiencing homelessness than for their housed peers.”
The randomized study will recruit 320 participants ages 18-25 and help support their decision-making process during critical periods, and determine if MY-RIDE intervention decreases substance use at 3, 6, and 12 months. The second aim of the project will assess MY-RIDE’s impact on increasing HIV prevention approaches such as condom use and willingness to use pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP and nPEP) medications, resulting in reduced HIV and fewer sexually transmitted infections.
“I was able to pilot this intervention thanks to funding from the PARTNERS organization, which has supported nurse scientists at Cizik School of Nursing with dozens of grants totaling more than $1.2 million over the years,” Santa Maria said. “My receipt of this NIH grant illustrates the importance of early-stage funding in developing meaningful programs of research and the immeasurable importance of our dedicated supporters.”
Co-investigators on the study are Nikhil Padhye, PhD, with Cizik School of Nursing; Michael Businelle, PhD, with University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center; and Natasha Slesnick, PhD, with The Ohio State University. The NIH funding is under grant 1R01NR020997.
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