Monday, March 15, 2010

Western Psych Will Use Federal Stimulus Funding to Study the Benefits of Counseling with HIV Screening

Western Psych is one of nine sites nationwide to receive funding from The National Institutes of Health to study if rapid HIV testing and counseling produce healthier results for those who test negative for the virus than testing alone. Western Psych will use Allegheny County's Health Department's STD clinic as their study site.

The $12.3 million dollar grant was awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Western Psych applied for the grant along with medical institutions in Miami and San Francisco. The sites selected across the country will represent a good cross section of Americans says Dr. Antoine Douaihy, Medical Director of Addiction Medicine Services at Western Psych and the study's chief researcher in Pittsburgh.

Researchers will begin recruiting for the study in a couple of weeks and will have done all of the research within 2 years. Requirements to participate are that participants use the county's health department clinic, be at least 18 years old, be HIV Negative or not know their status and be able to stay in touch with researchers.

Douaihy says physicians have been pushing to make rapid HIV testing and counseling an HIV prevention strategy. The CDC has recommended that prevention counseling not be required as part of the HIV screening programs and medical settings. This has been a point of controversy.

He says this will have public health implications in terms of researchers determining what sort of counseling reduces risky behavior.

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