Pilot Award Recipient: Sherry Molock, PhD

Dr. Molock Pic

A Pilot Study to Increase HIV Testing among African American Youth in Black Churches

March 07, 2016
African Americans constitute 12% of the population in the U.S., but 44% of HIV cases and the highest number of new infections. It is particularly important to increase testing among young people, because nearly three-fifths of HIV-positive youth in the U.S. are thought to have undiagnosed infection. This study will provide preliminary data for an NIH R01 resubmission to develop and test a church-based intervention to promoted HIV testing, with integrated screening for substance abuse and mental health among Black adolescents. This pilot is designed to address two questions raised in the positively reviewed R01 submission: do religiously involved youth have similar vulnerabilities to their non-religious peers, and how will the intervention address youth concerns about privacy and confidentiality in HIV testing. Quantitative surveys will provide information about HIV testing and sexual risk behaviors in church attending Black adolescents, and in-depth interviews will be used to assess religious behaviors and affiliations in Black adolescents living with HIV.religious behaviors. Focus groups data from teens will elicit information about possible barriers (e.g., concerns with privacy) and facilitators (e.g., social support) to implementing an HIVscreening intervention for Black youth in churches and linking HIV positive youth to services. Information about perceived facilitators and impediments to developing an HIV intervention in churches will be obtained from interviews with parents and church leaders, and information about optimizing linkages to services will be gained from interviewing healthcare providers. In addition to the community partners, the project team includes a clinical psychologist with over 20 years of clinical and research experience working with African American adolescents and churches in the area of suicide prevention.
This work has made the PI acutely aware of the overlapping risk factors for suicidality and HIV (e.g., substance use, depression, high-risk sexual behaviors). Thus, the PI is expanding her program of research to include HIV risk in African American youth. The team also includes the Co-Investigator, a board certified pediatrician who heads an HIV/AIDS clinic at Georgetown University, a social worker who provides group therapy and crisis management to teens living with HIV; two doctoral students in GW's clinical psychology program who have extensive experience working with black adolescents and Dr. Maria Cecilia Zea, the PI's mentor who is a nationally known expert in the area of HIV/AIDS.