Community Partnership/Engagement Core (CPE)

This Core is charged with accomplishing Specific Aims 2, 3, and 4 of C-SALUD P20 Center of Excellence Grant, which is housed under CRUSADA. Namely, the Center will: seek to provide opportunities for meaningful involvement of the community in substance abuse and HIV health disparities research in Latino populations (Objective 2); will conduct original research exploring the efficacy of a full range of health promotion and information dissemination approaches for improving the health status of Latinos and/or eliminating HIV and substance abuse health disparities confronted by this population (Objective 3); and will establish and strengthen innovative community-based participatory research (CBPR) partnerships between academic institutions and community groups/organizations (Objective 4).

Through these collaborations, we aspire to improve the health of Latina women, with a particular emphasis on reducing/eliminating HIV and substance abuse-related health disparities. Our goal will be accomplished through the development and implementation of an HIV/AIDS and substance abuse prevention program targeting at-risk Latino women in Miami-Dade County: Recent Latina Immigrants. A community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach will be adopted in the design and execution of this program.

These interventions will address three HIV-related primary goals of the Healthy People 2020 (Healthy People 2010, 2011):

  1. reducing the number of people who become infected with HIV, particularly those at high risk of infection;
  2. increasing access to care; and
  3. reducing HIV-related health disparities.

These programs will be directly linked to the two research subprojects proposed in the C-SALUD application through various activities of both subprojects and the CPE. Additionally, the CPE links with the Research Education and Training Core (RET) of the Center through various training activities under each core to more closely link researchers and community leaders.

This community partnership program — the Recent Latina Immigrant Program (RLIP) — will aid in both elucidating the social and cultural determinants of health that influence HIV and substance abuse risk behaviors and preventing the spread of HIV among Latino women and their families in Miami Dade County, Florida. The existing collaboration between C-SALUD and the Recent Latina Immigrant community will facilitate the aims and activities of the Community Partnership/Engagement Core and enhance the much needed presence of these vulnerable populations in evidence-based public health research.


Community Leaders Training

In conjunction with the Research Education/Training Core, training will be provided to two community leaders from the recent immigrant community on the conduct of research in HIV/AIDS and substance abuse in Latino populations. These community leaders are expected to make a two year commitment to participate in a set of training activities that will include workshops on writing, effective communication, and making presentations. They will receive training on writing a publishable paper and produce a grant application. They will also have the opportunity to receive travel grants to present papers at scientific meetings.

Specific Aims of the Community Partnership/Engagement Core

  • Aim 1: Develop a community program action plan for preventing HIV and substance abuse among recent Latina immigrant populations through improving access to HIV/AIDS prevention programs in these communities.
  • Aim 2: Increase recent Latina immigrants capacity to respond to the HIV epidemic at the local level by providing these women with the skills and knowledge needed to enable them to educate and empower other women in the community and obtain funding for future research endeavors.
  • Aim 3: Involve young members (ages 14 -17) of these communities (recent Latina immigrants) in substance abuse and HIV and substance abuse prevention program entitled “Cuidate”.

The Comadres/Compadres Program

This program builds on our ongoing training program of lay health advisors. The CPE Core has developed a Pilot Comadres/Compadres program to assist the Latina migrant worker community in Miami-Dade County in accessing existing primary and preventive healthcare services in HIV/AIDS and substance use/abuse through paraprofessional community coaches (also known as lay health advisors, frontline workers, community health representatives, and promotoras/es). These coaches are expected to conduct outreach activities including home visits in order to connect fellow community members in need of primary and secondary prevention to information on HIV/AIDS and substance abuse providers in Miami-Dade County.

Through these coaches, the community members are empowered with information about what services are available, how to access those services, and navigate the often cumbersome system. The community coaches will work on a volunteer basis. They receive compensation for their travel expenses and funds to undertake outreach events in their communities (i.e., information workshops, and health fairs). To ensure effectiveness of the program, the coaches will act as comadres/compadres in their communities. The terms “Comadres/Compadres” literally refer to godmothers/godfathers (godparenthood or compadrazgo) among the Latinos, extending respect and loyalty to comadres/compadres. While there are significant differences within the Latino culture, Latinos from different countries maintain the compadrazgo system in their culture with minor adjustments to the terms used to identify godmother and godfather (e.g., comai for comadre or compa for compadre; Lopez 1999).

The Pilot Comadres/Compadres Program focuses on linking people to primary and secondary prevention on substance use and HIV. While the effectiveness of community health coaches is slowly being established (Braithwaite et al., 2006), there is limited evidence on their effectives in linking people to substance abuse and HIV/AIDS service providers. The pilot program will be implemented in the Homestead/Florida City area. A total of 20 comadres/compadres are selected from the community.

The program has five main components:

  • documenting HIV/AIDS and substance abuse prevention and treatment resources;
  • identifying the specific needs of the selected neighborhoods through focus groups;
  • recruiting, electing, and training comadres/compadres;
  • conducting neighborhood surveys to measure effectiveness of the program, and proposal submission.

You Gotta Know / Hay Que Saber

The Center launched this campaign to curb the spread of HIV among youth (mainly of Latino descent) in Miami-Dade County. The project included interviews of three separate cohorts of FIU students over a three year period on their HIV risk and alcohol use behaviors (N=1200 students, 400 per year). Questions were related to students’ alcohol or substance use, myths about alcohol, and misperceived norms. In addition, 16 FIU student ambassadors were trained on HIV/AIDS and substance use risks, and prevention/treatment resources available to FIU students. These ambassadors were also trained to measure the effectiveness of activities/events on campus. To date, student ambassadors have hosted three community events. This project has provided information to students (N=464) on the FIU campus, and a scientific manuscript of the project findings is currently under review. Findings from this survey provided preliminary information that serves as the foundation for the development of the proposed study on HIV risk among recent Latina immigrants ages 18-23.

Informational booklets were created and distributed to the community in order to disseminate research findings from survey data.

Click images below to view current and past informational booklets: