UAlbany receives $1M for program to prevent HIV, substance abuse
ALBANY — The University at Albany was awarded nearly $1 million towards the creation of a five-year, comprehensive program aimed at preventing HIV infections and substance use disorders among students.
The Achieving College Completion through Engaged Support Services program will provide timely and responsive HIV prevention services to students, particularly those from the LGBTQ+ community and racial and ethnic backgrounds that are historically at higher risk for HIV and substance use disorders associated with health disparities.
Young adults under age 24 comprise more than one-fifth of all new HIV diagnoses in the United States, according to Dolores Cimini, director of the Center for Behavioral Health Promotion and Applied Research. Compounding the issue is that young people between the ages of 16 and 25 years of age are also at risk for substance use-related negative effects, making it important for researchers and service providers to address both concerns using a comprehensive prevention approach.
As part of Project ACCESS, trained students who have experienced substance abuse disorders or HIV firsthand will assist their fellow students by linking them to specialized behavioral health services and vital medical services. In addition, Project ACCESS will hire a “prevention navigator” to support BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students in accessing these behavioral and medical services in a timely and responsive manner, thus supporting students in accessing broader higher education opportunities, completing college and continuing progress towards advanced study and entry into the workforce.
“This funding comes at a very timely juncture at the University at Albany,” said Cimini, who is leading the project with associate professor Jessica L. Martin, of the University at Albany’s School of Education. “Our BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students are voicing the need for specialized services across areas that align with this grant, and it is also responsive to the current focus on health disparities by the University at Albany and New York State,” Cimini continued.
Martin, who also serves as counseling psychology division director, added, “We believe that this is the first grant under this funding mechanism that is housed within a higher education institution, uniquely positioning the University at Albany to advance innovation aimed to support both health and well-being and diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Albany Medical Center, the Alliance for Positive Health and the Damien Center will partner on the project, which began in August and is expected to continue through 2026.
The new program joins the growing list of comprehensive and innovative initiatives at the University at Albany. In September, the University officially became a Health Promoting University, a designation bestowed on only nine universities in the country.
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master’s, doctoral and graduate certificate programs.
The University at Albany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, education, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare and sociology, taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts.
It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, The University at Albany launches great career