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UVI Students Teach Peers About Drug Abuse, HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis

Nov. 13, 2007 – The Universtiy of the Virgin Islands Substance Abuse HIV/AIDS Program, which relies upon student peer educators (SPEs) for outreach and prevention education, has recently been awarded a grant of $85,000 by the U.S. Department of Health to begin its third year in the territory. The university launched the program in 2005, to engage students in teaching their peers about the prevalence and prevention of substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
Coordinated by UVI's Office of the Associate Campus Administrator in the Division of Student Affairs (St. Thomas Campus), the program is administered through a grant by the Department of Health's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP).
In past years, more than 18 students on UVI's St. Thomas and St. Croix campuses have been involved as student peer educators. Recruited from all classes and all disciplines, 26 students have applied to serve in this capacity for the 2007-2008 academic year.
UVI Associate Campus Administrator Dr. Doris Battiste is the principal investigator for the grant. The peer educators have reached about 800 students since the inception of the program in 2005. The targeted population includes students in the Freshman Development Seminar, Personal Life Skills classes and some psychology classes. SPEs are required to make presentations in assigned classes and in the residence halls with the cooperation of faculty and residence life staff.
SPE Cherissre Boateng is a sophomore biology major. "I like talking to my peers," Boateng said. "Many students are not aware of the diseases that go around. Who better to tell you about these things than your own peers?"
SPEs also provide presentations to community neighborhood groups and to on-campus summer program participants in Upward Bound, the Summer Institute for Future Global Leaders, and UVI's business administration and science programs.
Dr. Ededet Iniama, co-investigator on the grant and a tenured social sciences professor at UVI, said the peer educator program exposes the need for Virgin Islands-specific intervention methods.
"Since we are on islands away from the mainland, we may have issues that are particular to us," Iniama said. "An 18-year-old in the Virgin Islands can consume alcohol legally, whereas on the U.S. mainland the legal drinking age is 21. It is important for us to collect our own data. We, as a people, tend to accept alcohol, and people tend not to see it and marijuana as problems."
Student peer educators are able to assist in information gathering about what issues students think are important for intervention.
For information about the program, contact Dr. Doris Battiste at 693-1121.

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Nov. 13, 2007 - The Universtiy of the Virgin Islands Substance Abuse HIV/AIDS Program, which relies upon student peer educators (SPEs) for outreach and prevention education, has recently been awarded a grant of $85,000 by the U.S. Department of Health to begin its third year in the territory. The university launched the program in 2005, to engage students in teaching their peers about the prevalence and prevention of substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
Coordinated by UVI's Office of the Associate Campus Administrator in the Division of Student Affairs (St. Thomas Campus), the program is administered through a grant by the Department of Health's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP).
In past years, more than 18 students on UVI's St. Thomas and St. Croix campuses have been involved as student peer educators. Recruited from all classes and all disciplines, 26 students have applied to serve in this capacity for the 2007-2008 academic year.
UVI Associate Campus Administrator Dr. Doris Battiste is the principal investigator for the grant. The peer educators have reached about 800 students since the inception of the program in 2005. The targeted population includes students in the Freshman Development Seminar, Personal Life Skills classes and some psychology classes. SPEs are required to make presentations in assigned classes and in the residence halls with the cooperation of faculty and residence life staff.
SPE Cherissre Boateng is a sophomore biology major. "I like talking to my peers," Boateng said. "Many students are not aware of the diseases that go around. Who better to tell you about these things than your own peers?"
SPEs also provide presentations to community neighborhood groups and to on-campus summer program participants in Upward Bound, the Summer Institute for Future Global Leaders, and UVI's business administration and science programs.
Dr. Ededet Iniama, co-investigator on the grant and a tenured social sciences professor at UVI, said the peer educator program exposes the need for Virgin Islands-specific intervention methods.
"Since we are on islands away from the mainland, we may have issues that are particular to us," Iniama said. "An 18-year-old in the Virgin Islands can consume alcohol legally, whereas on the U.S. mainland the legal drinking age is 21. It is important for us to collect our own data. We, as a people, tend to accept alcohol, and people tend not to see it and marijuana as problems."
Student peer educators are able to assist in information gathering about what issues students think are important for intervention.
For information about the program, contact Dr. Doris Battiste at 693-1121.