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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Psychology Professor Joins Research Team to Help Reduce HIV in East Africa

Woolf-King portrait

Posted on: Aug. 17, 2021

Sarah Woolf-King, associate professor of psychology, recently received a subaward from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), for a project called SEARCH Sapphire. The project is designed to reduce HIV incidence in East Africa, one of the regions most affected by HIV in the world according to data from the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). She has joined the team as a co-investigator.

Previous research states that alcohol use has been linked to individuals’ ability to take medication that treat HIV, called antiretroviral therapy (ART). By reducing alcohol use, researchers hope to increase ART adherence, which would reduce the amount of HIV virus in the blood of those infected and reduce onward HIV transmission.

The project is using a multipronged strategy of interventions targeting HIV treatment and prevention in high-risk populations. Woolf-King will be responsible for training and supervising counselors in Uganda and Kenya (three at each site) on the implementation of a brief alcohol intervention. She will also contribute to publications related to the alcohol portion of the project.

Woolf-King is collaborating on the grant with co-investigators Judith Hahn, Ph.D., MA, and Sarah Puryear, MD, MPH, professor and assistant professor of medicine respectively at UCSF, and principal investigators Diane Havlir, MD, professor of medicine at UCSF, Maya Petersen, MD, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, Berkeley, and Moses Kamya, MBChB, Ph.D., professor of medicine at Makerere University College of Health Sciences. Together, they hope the brief alcohol intervention in SEARCH Sapphire will reduce alcohol use among the participants and lead to increased adherence to drugs that treat HIV.