Southern researchers receive $900,000 grant to further HIV/AIDS research

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POSTED: Friday, October 4, 2013 - 5:00pm

UPDATED: Saturday, October 5, 2013 - 1:57pm

Baton Rouge leads the nation in HIV and AIDS cases per capita, but a group of Southern University researchers is hoping to change that. They received a $900,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Hospitals, which was awarded to them to continue their research.

Natalie Cooley works to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS here in Baton Rouge. That's why this latest grant to help further their programs is such a big deal. Now, she said, they'll be able to reach even more people.

"So the grant is going to allow us to continue the work we've been doing on campus as well as in the community, doing HIV/AIDS awareness and education," Cooley said. "So the target group is 18 to 24 year olds and we are specifically targeting African-Americans. So we want to highlight African-American women, as well as men who sleep with men, and young adults. We know that the research shows that they are the group that aren't really educated. So we want to increase education and awareness to decrease those risk."

Venese Morgan is a student at Southern. She said, despite current efforts, HIV and AIDS are a growing problem in the Capitol City.

"I think it's a great idea, and I think that considering AIDS and HIV have affected here in Baton Rouge that age set of 18 to 24 year old specifically among the minority group," Morgan said. "So those people who are not necessarily on this campus receive that education as well because it's fully needed."

Funds from this latest grant will help organizations like the Baton Rouge AIDS Society in their quest to educate and create awareness.

"We have to give some real education to people and research allows you to get more factual information of what's happening in your community. Do you know how many people in your age group are infected in this age group?," AJ Johnson, the CEO of BRASS said.

The grant will also help support programs centered around substance abuse, which is another prevalent issue in the community.

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