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Maryland Researcher Receives NIH Grant to Study Substance Abuse, Intimate Partner Violence and HIV Risk-reduction Intervention

University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Dr. Mona Mittal will adapt and test an integrated substance abuse, intimate partner violence and HIV risk-reduction intervention for HIV-negative African American couples thanks to funding received from the National Institute of Health’s (NIH’s) National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). NIDA supports research on drug use and addiction, and disseminates and applies that research to improve individual as well as public health. This new project will build upon the findings of a previous NIH grant where Dr. Mittal developed and tested an intimate partner violence and HIV risk-reduction intervention for low-income abused women.


[Photo: Dr. Mona Mittal]

In her previous study, Dr. Mittal, an assistant professor in the family science department, developed a psychotherapeutic intervention aimed at addressing both Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and HIV risk. Half of the women in the study received that intervention, with the other half participating in a domestic violence closed group intervention, which Dr. Mittal described as a “gold standard” treatment for helping those who have experienced IPV. The intervention developed by the research team resulted in some significant reduction in frequency of violence and HIV-risk taking.

In her new research, Dr. Mittal will pilot test an intervention guided by Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy with couples who report high-risk sexual behaviors, intimate partner violence, and substance use. Outcome assessments will focus on changes in condom use, intimate partner violence, substance abuse, and testing for sexually transmitted infections, given the link between substance use, violence and HIV acquisition in the African American population.

“We expect that this proposed intervention will hold significant promise for reducing HIV-related racial and gender disparities in the U.S. with its focus on a highly vulnerable and marginalized group and co-occurring HIV-related risk factors among couples,” Dr. Mittal said.