CDC grant to support study for Latinas; NIH grant seeks to improve health for pregnant women


Arnold School of Public Health researchers have received grants aimed at improving the health of women.

One is a study on AIDS prevention among Latinas; the other will focus on the promotion of healthy weight among overweight/obese mothers.

Dr. Myriam Torres, a clinical assistant professor in the Arnold School’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and director of the Consortium for Latino Immigration Studies, has received a grant to support the fourth year of a project, titled “Empowering Latinas to Lash Out Against AIDS (ELLAS).”

The $168,000 study is funded by the National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STDS and TB Prevention/CDC.

The first phase of the study has involved interviews with pregnant Latinas about their knowledge, beliefs and attitudes about HIV/AIDS transmission, intentions to take an HIV test and knowledge about the testing and counseling being offered by healthcare providers.

The next phase will focus on the use of culturally tailored materials, such as Spanish videos, on the benefits of early prenatal care and HIV testing to prevent perinatal transmission. These materials will be developed for use by healthcare providers and for dissemination among the Latino communities.

Dr. Jihong Liu, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Dr. Sara Wilcox, a professor in the Department of Exercise Science, will lead a project called “Promoting Healthy Weight in Pregnancy and Postpartum Among Overweight/Obese Women.”

The study is funded by a grant of $181,250 by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development/National Institutes of Health. Many women, particularly African-American and low-income women, enter pregnancy overweight or obese.

“These overweight or obese women are at higher risk for pregnancy-associated weight retention after delivery than normal weight women. This further increases their already high risks for obesity-related comorbidities,” said Liu.

“The primary goals of project are to develop a behavioral intervention based on interviews with women in the target group and then test the feasibility of the tailored intervention to prevent excessive weight gain in pregnancy and promote weight loss in early postpartum among overweight and obese African-American women,” she said.

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