For Immediate Release

March 8, 2007

New York, NY – Dr. Nabila El Bassel, professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work (CUSSW) and director of the Social Intervention Group, has received an additional two-year, $2.8 million dollar grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).  The grant will be used to support Project Eban, a national, multi-site study on HIV/AIDS risk reduction for African American couples.

Project Eban is the largest HIV prevention study for African Americans funded by the NIMH.  The word “Eban” derives from the Ashanti tribe in Africa, meaning “fence.” It is used to symbolize safety, protection, and solidarity for the African American community.  The project was designed by the multi-site team to test the efficacy of a culturally appropriate intervention to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among African American HIV serodiscordant heterosexual couples, or where one person is HIV-positive and one is not.  

“The intervention is innovative because it uses an Afro-centric, culturally congruent approach to build self-efficacy to protect oneself, one’s partner, and the African American community from HIV/AIDS and to reduce stigma and social isolation experienced by African American HIV serodiscordant couples, a population which remains underserved and at very high risk of HIV/AIDS transmission.” says Dr. El-Bassel.  “The Eban study is an innovative example of how social, behavioral, and biological scientists collaborate to tackle this unrelenting HIV epidemic among African-American HIV serodiscordant couples and the findings of the study will make a significant contribution on HIV/AIDS prevention science.”

Project Eban was first funded in 2002 to Dr. El-Bassel with a grant of $5.6 million dollars over five years; to date, Dr. El-Bassel has received a total funding of $8.4 million dollars.  The study is a collaborative effort of the NIMH with four clinical sites – Columbia University, Emory University, University of California at Los Angeles, and the University of Pennsylvania.  The investigative team from CUSSW includes along with Dr. El-Bassel, Louisa Gilbert, Susan Witte, and Elwin Wu.

For more information or to interview Dr. El Bassel, please contact Jeannie Hii at 212-851-2327 or jy2223@columbia.edu.

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