Columbia University Medical Center

CDC Recognizes Columbia Research As Critical To The Fight Against Hiv/Aids

NEW YORK (February 11, 2009) — The Healthy Living Project, a program designed and evaluated by the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies of Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, has been chosen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for inclusion in The 2008 Compendium of Evidence-based HIV Prevention Interventions.

CDC, the U.S. Government’s lead agency for HIV Prevention in the US, analyzes program efficacy and compiles updates to The Compendium annually. To be included, programs must be scientifically proven to reduce HIV or STD-related risk behaviors, or promote safer behaviors. The 2008 Compendium is a single source of information that informs state and local HIV prevention programs about what works for preventing HIV infections and includes a total of 57 interventions.

The Healthy Living Project, which is formally titled Health Related Interventions for Persons Living with HIV, is one of eight interventions that have been added this year. The intervention was developed as part of a multi-site collaboration among the HIV Center and colleagues from UCLA, UCSF, and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Healthy Living is a three-module/15-session intervention that is delivered one-on-one to people living with HIV. Each of the three modules consists of five sessions, and each is designed to improve quality of life in a different broad area of health: physical, mental, and sexual. More specifically, the modules focus on developing positive strategies for managing symptoms of depression, anxiety, complex medication regimens, injection drug use, and sexual risk behavior in order to avoid unwanted consequences for themselves, their friends, families, and partners.

Module 1 (stress, coping, and adjustment), focuses on quality of life, psychologic coping, and achieving positive affect and supportive social relationships. Module 2 (safer behaviors), centers on self-regulatory issues, such as avoiding risky sexual and drug use behavior. Module 3 (health behaviors), addresses accessing health services, adherence, and active participation in medical care decision making. Sessions have a standard structure and set of activities that are tailored to the individual participant. Psychoeducation, skills-building exercises, and cognitive-behavioral techniques (trigger identification, problem solving, and goal setting) are included in each session so the participant can use these skills independently to effectively meet challenges in their daily lives.

“More than 25 years in to the AIDS epidemic, HIV prevention remains a critical need. Biomedical advances have made enormous strides in treating HIV infection, but not yet in preventing new cases and certainly not in curing those who are already infected,” noted Anke A. Ehrhardt, Ph.D., Director of the HIV Center and the Principal Investigator of the study site in New York. “The challenges of helping HIV-positive individuals to cope with HIV infection, to adopt healthier lifestyles, and to prevent further transmission are enormous and urgent.

“The inclusion of the Health Living Project in this CDC compendium means that it has been recognized as among the strongest HIV behavioral interventions in the literature to date and that it has been rigorously evaluated and has demonstrated efficacy,” continued Ehrhardt. “This mark of distinction will encourage the adoption of the intervention by state and local health departments, health-care facilities, community-based organizations, and others.”

HIV prevention is a national challenge that is addressed in communities small and large throughout the United States. Therefore, Columbia University Medical Center is proud that The Healthy Living Project has been included in CDC’s 2008 Compendium, so that those who are providing services – the local health departments, the community based organizations, the small non-profits – will all have access to information about this highly efficacious intervention. Reducing the burden of HIV and AIDS is a challenge, and sometimes an uphill battle. Indeed, CDC estimates that approximately 56,000 new HIV infections occurred in 2006 (the most recent year that these data were available).

For more information about the Health Living Project, please contact Dr. Raymond Smith, Director of Communications at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, at ras33@columbia.edu.

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Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical and clinical research, in medical and health sciences education, and in patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Established in 1767, Columbia’s College of Physicians & Surgeons was the first institution in the country to grant the M.D. degree and is now among the most selective medical schools in the country. CUMC is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and state and one of the largest in the country. For more information, please visit www.cumc.columbia.edu.