Press Release

Rep. Cuellar Announces $900,000 Federal Grant to TAMIU for Substance Abuse, HIV/AIDS Prevention Program in Webb County

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LAREDO, Texas, January 29, 2016 | Rafael Benavides ((956) 725-0639) | comments
Today Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28), Dr. Ray M. Keck III, president of Texas A&M International University (TAMIU), and Serving Children and Adolescents in Need (SCAN) announced a $900,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, to TAMIU-SCAN to develop a prevention program for substance abuse and HIV/AIDS as well as viral hepatitis in Webb County.

The $900,000 SAMSHA grant, secured by Congressman Cuellar, supports a comprehensive intervention program among Hispanic adults ages 18-24 in the Webb County region. TAMIU will work with SCAN on this program.

“The Texas-Mexico border community, including Webb County, is disproportionately affected by substance abuse, HIV and other diseases that not only affect the individual, but their entire family and community,” said Congressman Cuellar. “According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Webb County is ranked 16th in a list of the 25 counties with the greatest number of HIV diagnoses, 19th in the number of AIDS cases and 22nd in the number of people living with HIV. While great medical advances have made these conditions and diseases easier to treat, we must continue to with extensive outreach and intervention programs that focus on prevention and early treatment. These federal funds and programs are a great investment for maintaining healthy communities along the border. I thank Dr. Keck  and the staff at TAMIU, as well as Ms. Dabdoub and SCAN for their help in developing this much-needed program for our community.”

Dr. Marivic Torregosa, TAMIU assistant professor of Nursing and coordinator of the Family Nurse Practitioner program for the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, said the TAMIU-SCAN Prevention Project Program provides a strategic approach to establish, effectively deliver and sustain substance abuse, HIV, and viral hepatitis prevention among young adults.

“There are currently no integrated substance abuse, HIV and viral hepatitis prevention services available in the Laredo community,” Dr. Torregosa said, “This project assists in meeting the needs of young adult Hispanics by linking them to various in-house and community resources in order to provide detection, assessment as well as prevention of substance use disorders, HIV, and viral hepatitis infections.”

Torregosa said it is far more productive to prevent rather than deal with life-altering consequences of substance abuse.

Dr. John Kilburn, TAMIU associate dean for Research and Sponsored Projects, said the TAMIU-SCAN Project brings unprecedented services to Laredo.

“This community partnership will serve as a model for health outreach to our local community,” Dr. Kilburn said.

The goal of the TAMIU-SCAN Project is to implement several evidence-based practices in its different program components, Torregosa explained.

The project will provide prevention efforts such as community outreach, comprehensive screening and assessment, HIV rapid testing, hepatitis C rapid testing, HIV brief counseling, HIV and hepatitis education, curriculum-based substance abuse prevention education, substance abuse prevention counseling, supportive and assertive case management and referrals to other support services.

The TAMIU project team will work in partnership with SCAN and includes Dr. Torregosa; Dr. Marcus Ynalvez, associate professor of sociology; Dr. Elizabeth Terrazas-Carrillo, assistant professor in the department of psychology and communication; and María del Rosario Benavides, project coordinator for the Dr. F.M. Canseco School of Nursing. Leading the SCAN team are Dr. Christopher Craddock and Dora Ramírez.

Other community partners include the City of Laredo Health Department, Border Region Behavioral Health Center, and Texas A&M University, Torregosa said.

“Another project strength is that it involves several stakeholders from the community as an advisory group,” she explained.

Congressman Henry Cuellar, TAMIU President Dr. Ray M. Keck III, and representatives from both TAMIU and SCAN present a check for a $900,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration to TAMIU-SCAN on Friday for the development of a prevention program for substance abuse and HIV/AIDS as well as viral hepatitis in Webb County.

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