Department of Social Work Awarded $900,000 Grant

    grantDr. Grace Loudd visiting professor, Department of  Social Work, says she wants to "change the narrative around sex". In particular, she wants people (especially people of color) to openly discuss and address issues that are currently considered taboo. This desire, and the support of her colleagues in the Social Work Department, led Dr. Loudd to write a grant proposal that culminated in the funding of a three-year research grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). As a result of their efforts, the TSU-S.H.A.P.E. Initiative was born.

    The primary purpose of the grant is to better understand how social and environmental variables such as knowledge/attitudes toward sex, and alcohol/drug consumption behaviors among African-American young adults (ranging from ages 18-24) contribute to disproportionately higher infection/transmission rates of HIV and Hepatitis C (Hep C) within this population in comparison to their counterparts of different races and ethnicities.

    A major component of the grant is to develop partnerships with community-based organizations (CBOs) to implement educational and prevention programs on campus and in the surrounding community that will lead to safer-sex attitudes and practices. TSU S.H.A.P.E. Initiative CBOs are S.H.A.P.E. Community Center (S.H.A.P.E.), and Houston Area Community Services (HACS). As a well-respected and established entity in Third Ward that provides cultural and educational resources, along with family support, S.H.A.P.E. serves a predominantly African-American base. HACS has significant experience in providing medical, behavioral, and housing services for people of various income levels who have been diagnosed with HIV.

    As co-PIs, Dr. Loudd and Dr. Needha Boutte-Queen, chair, TSU Department of Social Work, will oversee all elements of program design and implementation, and monitor the efficacy of the research design and data collection. Dr. Nicole Willis, assistant professor of Social Work, will serve as Program Evaluator, responsible for assisting with the development of measurement tools, such as assessments and surveys, which will be used to collect data and evaluate outcomes. HIV/Hep C screening of students and community members will be conducted by Ariel Jones and Santita Hartsfield (Testing and Promotion Specialists, HACS). The implementation of the program, and CBO partnerships will be managed by Daniel Harris, Sr., Program Coordinator, TSU Department of Social Work.