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Substance Abuse Study Funded by NIDA

Jessica Griffin Burke, PhD, MHA, assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences (BCHS), received funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for her study “Patterns of Substance Use Among Aging HIV Positive and Negative MSM.” The award is $203,000 for two years. Ron Stall, PhD, MPH, BCHS chair; Anthony Silvestre, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology; Steve Albert, PhD, MSPH, MA, professor of BCHS; and Michael Marshal, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and BCHS, are study co-investigators. Howie Lim, a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology and a LGBT Health & Wellness certificate program student, is the study’s project director.

The overarching goal of this R03 research study is to examine the patterns of substance use over time among an aging cohort of HIV positive and negative men who have sex with men (MSM) participating in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS). The Pitt Men’s Study (PMS) is one of the four MACS sites.

This exploratory research focuses on the extent to which middle-aged MSM carry substance use habits from earlier into later life. It is a mixed method study that includes an innovative approach to secondary quantitative data analysis of existing MACS data and qualitative in-depth interviews with selected MACS participants. The analysis will be limited to MACS participants currently over the age of 50 years and will compare trajectories of declining substance use with increasing or consistently high levels of use. These pattern comparisons will allow for the identification of resiliency characteristics associated with decreased substance use and related health and social problems. Results will be used to develop a model intervention to prevent substance abuse and related health and social problems among both older HIV positive and negative MSM. The analysis will also specifically seek to develop hypotheses from the qualitative and quantitative data that can be tested with other aging populations of substance users.


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