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News Release| Charter College of Education; Cal State L.A.

November 21, 2013

Cal State L.A. to launch HIV, substance abuse prevention program

Federal grant helps train peer advocates to reach out to Hiic/Latino young adults

Los Angeles, CA –  Funded by a three-year $900,000 grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, California State University, Los Angeles will launch an HIV and substance abuse prevention program titled “Project Choice-CSULA.”  

Coordinated by the Rehabilitation Counseling Education Program housed in the University’s Charter College of Education, this training program is designed to prepare college students for outreach immersion into their surrounding communities as trained Peer Health Advocates (PHAs) or Veteran Health Advocates (VHAs). 

“We will begin working in collaboration with community partner, Asian American Drug Abuse Program, Inc., to increase knowledge and awareness of alcohol, drug and HIV issues, high risk behaviors, attitudes and perceptions among the target population,” said CSULA Professor Frances W. Siu, project coordinator.

Project Choice-CSULA’s primary focus is aimed at Hiic/Latino young adults with special emphasis on veterans and people with disabilities. The project expects to reach about 1,000 individuals in the first year, 1,500 within the second year, and 2,500 during the last year of the grant period.

In a recent national survey regarding alcohol use and risky sexual behavior among college students and youth, the National Institutes of Health found that 45 percent of college freshmen who reported binge drinking failed to use contraceptives or protection when they engaged in sexual intercourse; among them, 7 percent were unaware of being infected with HIV.

Medical studies have indicated that in early stages of HIV infection, most people do not experience any symptoms.

The project’s outreach strategies include: peer-to-peer education through presentations, small group engagement and training; targeted community outreach by conducting strategic outreach and through information sharing; and resource referral services that encourage access to local health services. 

Siu, who is also the undergraduate program coordinator of the University’s Rehabilitation Counseling Education Program, has conducted research focused on psychosocial aspects of disability and violence against people with disabilities. A CSULA alumna, she earned a Ph.D. in Special Education and Counseling, option in Rehabilitation Counselor Education, from the University of Texas at Austin. She is the recipient of the 2011 New Career in Rehabilitation Education Award, honored by the National Council on Rehabilitation Education. She is also a recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Women Award from CSULA.

“Through this project, CSULA will play a significant role in HIV/AIDS and substance abuse harm reduction,” said Siu. “Raising awareness and providing resources among young adults about the issues are our primary goals for this project.” 

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 About SAMHSA: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

Working for California  since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 220,000 alumni—with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds—reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Six Colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to the Honors College for high-achieving students. Programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a growing forensic science program, housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.