This year’s SHARC Conference took place on Florida International University Modesto A. Maidique Campus on May 18 and included workgroups, speakers, and a poster session where students and investigators presented some of their work. However, this conference didn’t address the dangers of sharks in our waters and instead dealt with the twin dangers of alcohol and HIV.
[Photo: Ms. Vanessa Ayala]
“SHARC” stands for Southern HIV Alcohol Research Consortium and it’s a collaboration between researchers at FIU and the University of Florida who are on a mission to improve health outcomes and reduce HIV transmission among the diverse range of populations affected by alcohol and HIV infection in the Southeastern United States. Within this mission, the SHARC team is focusing on persons living in Florida, a state with high HIV incidence, substantial population diversity, and a high number of older persons living with HIV.
During the conference, Ms. Vanessa Ayala, who is pursuing a Masters in Public Health with a specialization in Epidemiology, presented a poster on linkage to care for those who were diagnosed with HIV in correctional facilities versus those who were diagnosed elsewhere. She found that those who were diagnosed in correctional facilities took longer to get linked to care, which has policy implications.
Although these are preliminary findings, it suggests that there is more to learn about the process of testing, getting diagnosed and getting linked to the appropriate care resource for those who are incarcerated. For her work, Ms. Ayala received the award for Best Poster Presentation.
SHARC is funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Its principal investigators are Dr. Bob Cook of UF and Dr. Maria Jose Miguez of FIU. Other FIU investigators with SHARC include FIU Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work faculty Dr. Jessy Devieux, and Dr. Gladys Ibañez.