HEALTH: Time to Cultivate More Black HIV/AIDS Researchers

April 2nd, 2009

While African Americans comprise a disproportionate number those living with HIV/AIDS, just a smidgen of those researching the deadly disease are Black, a study shows. “The most effective behavior-change policies allow for individuals to be part of the solution and not the problem,” said lead author Dr. Gail Wyatt, professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. “We need African American experts who are at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention.” In the U.S., African Americans make up just 13 percent of the overall population, but they account for nearly half of the more than 1 million people living with HIV/AIDS. But there is a paucity of African-American HIV/AIDS researchers, due in large part to historical, social and other factors that prevent them from training in the biomedical, behavioral and social aspects of the research, say researchers from the UCLA Center for Culture, Trauma and Mental Health Disparities. Along with the UCLA AIDS Institute, the center has developed a series of recommendations that could reverse the trend and lead more African American researchers into the field. They include providing research training to African American college students early in their careers; cultivating more Black role models in the research community; and more support for culturally congruent research.

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