A Southern University researcher soon will have nearly $1 million at her disposal to help fight the spread of HIV/AIDS and substance abuse.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently granted Alma Thornton, director of Southern’s Center for Social Research, a three-year, $900,000 federal grant to further her work.
The goal, according to a news release, is to target substance abuse and HIV prevention programs to African American college students, between 18 and 24, and other young adults in communities showing heightened risk of substance abuse and/or contracting HIV/AIDS.
The grant “represents an effort by the university to work within the community,” Thornton said in a prepared statement. “With our partners, we share resources, expertise and the common goal of improving our neighborhood.
“As an anchor institution in the Scotlandville Community, Southern University works collaboratively with community residents and leaders to develop and implement programs that improve the conditions and quality of life of community residents,” she added.
The work should benefit a city that has a significant problem with HIV and AIDS.
For the second year in a row, the Baton Rouge metropolitan area has the highest per capita rate of new AIDS cases in the nation, according to 2011 data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Baton Rouge has a rate of 29, which means 29 people out of every 100,000 of population were diagnosed with AIDS in 2011, the report says.
The CDC uses the U.S. Census Bureau’s Metropolitan Statistical Area to define the Baton Rouge metro area. It consists of nine parishes: East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Ascension, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, East Feliciana, West Feliciana, Livingston and St. Helena.
Miami was ranked second with a rate of 28; Atlanta was ranked third with a rate of 27; New Orleans was ranked fourth with a rate of 25 and Baltimore was ranked fifth with a rate of 24.
The Baton Rouge metro area ranked first in the country last year with a rate of 33 and second in the nation the year before that with a rate of 30.