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June 22, 2007

Contact: Ann Holdsworth
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UH Health Clinic Offering Free HIV Testing on National HIV Testing Day

HOUSTON, June 22, 2007 – About 40,000 people become infected with HIV each year in the United States. There were 4.3 million new infections worldwide in 2006, and an estimated 39.5 million people are living with HIV.

HIV and AIDS will be one of the first initiatives the University of Houston College of Pharmacy will tackle through the new Institute of Community Health (ICH). The first step in battling a disease is diagnosis, so in recognition of National HIV Testing Day, the University of Houston Health Center will offer free HIV tests from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.on Wednesday, June 27, 2007.

“Texas remains as one of the states with a high incidence and prevalence of HIV/AIDs among ethnic minorities, namely African-Americans and Hispanics,” said E. James Essein, a UH pharmacy professor and ICH director. “There are a few institutions locally that are conducting studies on minority health issues, including HIV. The institute will foster collaboration among UH faculty and other Texas Medical Center researchers on how to design and implement programs to reduce the burden of diseases that disproportionately affect minority populations in Texas.”

In a report released in March, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spotlighted this disparity. Although only 13 percent of the U.S. population, blacks accounted for 49 percent of the new HIV/AIDs diagnoses in 2005; Hispanics and whites accounted for 18 percent and 31 percent of the new cases, respectively.

“The overall goal of the ICH is to create an interdisciplinary research environment where investigators can conduct basic, clinical and translational research that will advance knowledge in the field of community health, promote health and prevent diseases,” Essien said.

Along with HIV/AIDs prevention research, the ICH staff also will study medication use and effectiveness, population-based pharmaceutical care and health services for those with mental disorders.

Funded by the UH College of Pharmacy and grants from the National Institutes of Health, CDC and private foundations, the institute will be based at the College of Pharmacy’s Texas Medical Center campus.

“Our close proximity to other Texas Medical Center institutions will provide an opportunity for collaboration in the areas of research and service delivery,” Essien said. The ICH staff includes professors from the UH College of Pharmacy, the University of Wyoming, the University of Connecticut and the University of Texas.

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