UC San Diego Students Design Low-Cost HIV Viral Load Monitoring System for Tijuana, Mexico

A group of students from the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California San Diego will spend the summer trying to curb the HIV epidemic in Tijuana, Mexico.

Two teams from UC San Diego’s Engineering World Health (EWH) student organization and Global TIES program are combining forces this summer to bring a device they created to monitor viral load in HIV patients to a clinical setting in Tijuana, Mexico for testing. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


UC San Diego Health Department of Medicine physicians Davey Smith and Matt Strain are advising both teams of students.

Dr. Davey Smith

Dr. Davey Smith

Davey Smith, MD, MAS, is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases. He co-directs the UC San Diego Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) and directs the CFAR’s Translational Virology Core.

Matt Strain, MD, is Assistant Professor of Medicine and physician in the Genomics and Sequencing Core at the UC San Diego CFAR.

High Rates of Violence, HIV Infection for Adolescents in Sex Trade on U.S.-Mexico Border

Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that more than one in four female sex workers in two Mexican cities on the U.S. border entered the sex trade younger than age 18; one in eight before their 16th birthday. These women were more than three times more likely to become infected with HIV than those who started sex work as adults. They were also three times more likely to be violently coerced to engage in sex with male clients and seven times less likely to use a condom during their first month in the sex trade.

The study is published August 4 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego News Center


The study comes from the Division of Global Public Health in the Department of Medicine. Jay G. Silverman, PhD, professor of medicine and director of research for the Center on Gender Equity and Health, is lead author.

The senior author is Kimberly Brouwer, PhD, associate professor of medicine and leader in the Scientific Working Group on HIV Prevention at the UC San Diego Center for AIDS Research.

Read the article full text (UC San Diego only)

Binational Police Program in Tijuana Targets HIV Reduction

Effort also aims to improve safety of officers —

Research consistently shows that policing practices, such as confiscating or breaking needles, are key factors in the HIV epidemic among persons who inject drugs. Police officers themselves are also at risk of acquiring HIV or viral hepatitis if they experience needle-stick injuries on the job — a significant source of anxiety and staff turn-over.

A binational team from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission, Mexico Section has launched a new research project aimed at promoting prevention of HIV and other blood-borne infections. The effort is led by Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, professor and director of the UC San Diego Global Health Initiative, Leo Beletsky, JD, MPH, associate professor, and Gudelia Rangel, PhD, deputy general director for migrant health and executive secretary of the Mexico Section of the Mexico-United States Border Health Commission, in partnership with the Tijuana Police Department and Police Academy. The binational team will offer and evaluate Proyecto ESCUDO (Project SHIELD), a police education program designed to align law enforcement and HIV prevention in Tijuana. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Global Public Health Division Video Wins 2nd Prize in Video Challenge Competition for UC Global Health Day

A video made by doctoral candidate Jaime Arredondo and other members of the Division of Global Public Health has won second prize in the Video Challenge Competition for UC Global Health Day.

The video, “The Forgotten: Clinica del Bordo,” takes viewers to the San Diego-Tijuana border, where Arredondo and many other members of the global public health division provide wound care, HIV testing and other basic health services to people who live in the Tijuana River Canal.

Canal Wound Clinic, or Clinica del Bordo, is an outreach effort of UC San Diego’s NIDA-funded Proyecto el Cuete IV program, Impact of Drug Policy Reform on the HIV Risk Environment Among IDUs in Tijuana.

“This brief video embodies our division’s philosophy of integrating research, training and service to improve the health of our border community,” said Division of Global Public Health chief Steffanie Strathdee, PhD.

“I am very proud that our work is upheld by our students, as they are our next generation of health providers and prevention scientists.”

Dr. Strathdee is Harold Simon Professor, Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences; Chief, Division of Global Public Health and Director of the UC San Diego Global Health Initiative.

Jaime Arredondo is an AIDS International Training and Research (AITRP) fellow.

The video is here:

Preventing Drug-Abuse-Related HIV in Tijuana by Educating Police

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee

The NIH Record recently highlighted Dr. Steffanie Strathdee, Dr. Leo Beletsky, and their binational team for their efforts to prevent drug abuse-related HIV in Tijuana, Mexico, by changing the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of the Tijuana police.

With support from the Open Society Institute and the UC San Diego Center for AIDS Research, the pilot phase of the project taught Tijuana police instructors how to prevent needle stick injuries by proper syringe handling, which advises them against breaking needles they apprehend from drug users. The training program is now being adopted by Tijuana’s police academy, whereby the police trainers will be teaching the program to their colleagues.

“We believe this program is the best way to reduce needle sharing among people who inject drugs, which is driven by policing practices,” Strathdee said.

The program will soon be tested in a newly funded grant by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Proyecto ESCUDO (Project Shield): Harmonizing Law Enforcement and HIV Prevention through a Police Education Program.

Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences and Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health and Director of the Global Health Initiative.

Strathdee co-leads Proyecto ESCUDO with Leo Beletsky, JD, MPH, adjunct assistant professor in the Division of Global Public Health at UC San Diego and assistant professor of law and health sciences at the Northeastern University School of Law.

Dr. Victoria Ojeda Receives UCGHI Junior Faculty Fellowship Award

Dr. Victoria OjedaVictoria Ojeda, MPH, PhD, public health researcher and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Global Public Health, has received a Junior Faculty Fellowship Program award for 2013-2014 from the University of California Global Health Institute (UCGHI).

The UCGHI Junior Faculty Fellowship Program, funded by a private donor, supports global health investigators in focused, multidisciplinary projects to develop their skills in investigation, training and leadership.

The award will support Ojeda’s ongoing work with deportees in Tijuana, Baja California, funding her project, “Tijuana Business Attitudes Toward Deportees and the Acceptability of an Employment Opportunities Program.”

Ojeda’s related Tijuana study, “Social incorporation following deportation and implications for health status and access to care,” is supported by a UCGHI GloCal Health Fellowship award she received in 2012. The GloCal Fellowship, a one-year mentored research fellowship, is a program of the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center and a UCGHI consortium.

Ojeda focuses her research on substance use, HIV/AIDS infection, and mental health co-morbidities in migrant populations, including injection drug users and female sex workers. Through a number of studies in Tijuana and elsewhere, she is examining how patterns of population movement, including migration and deportation, affect the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne infections in the United States-Mexico border region.

Ojeda earned her MPH and PhD in Community Health Sciences at the School of Public Health at UCLA and completed a NIMH Post-doctoral fellowship in Mental Health Policy at the Department of Health Care Policy at the Harvard Medical School.

She is principal investigator of a five-year, NIDA-funded K01 career development project Mexican Female Migration, Substance Use, Sex work, and HIV Risks in Tijuana (Mujer Migrante). She is a research associate of the UCSD Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and a faculty member in the UCSD-SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Global Public Health.

More Information:

In the Spotlight: Global Public Health Division’s El Cuete and Mujer Mas Segura Projects

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee on El Cuete outreachAs the XIX International AIDS Conference met in Washington, DC, this month, Science highlighted the UC San Diego Division of Global Public Health’s El Cuete project and KPBS released a video and story about another of the division’s studies, Mujer Mas Segura.

Science magazine profiled the El Cuete project in a special issue, HIV/AIDS in America, released to coincide with the International AIDS Conference. Read “My Virus Is Your Virus” in Science

In the local media, KPBS interviewed Dr. Steffanie Strathdee (pictured at left above) and Dr. Jose Luis Burgos about the Changing HIV Risks in Female Sex Workers-Injection Drug Users on the Mexico-US Border study, known as Mujer Mas Segura.  Go to video story “UC San Diego Study Aims To Reduce The Risks In The Sex Trade”

Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences and Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the UC San Diego Division of Global Public Health. She directs the UC San Diego Global Health Initiative and is founding co-director of the UC Global Health Institute’s Center for Migration and Health.

Jose Luis Burgos, MD, MPH, is assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Global Public Health.

Related stories from UC San Diego and the University of California:

Wayne Cornelius Wins Mexico’s Highest Honor for Foreigners

Wayne Cornelius first fell in love with Mexico in 1962 as a small-town Pennsylvania high schooler. It was his first trip abroad (first time west of the Mississippi, actually), and he “got hooked,” he says, on the country, its people, history, food and music. Now, the social scientist who founded UC San Diego’s Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, as well as Center for U.S-Mexican Studies, has been honored with Mexico’s highest award for foreigners: the Order of the Aztec Eagle. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Wayne Cornelius, PhD, a member of the core faculty in the Division of Global Public Health, directs undergraduate programming for the University of California’s ten-campus Global Health Institute. In addition, he co-directs the UC Center of Expertise on Migration and Health and is founder and Director Emeritus of the UCSD Center for Comparative Immigration Studies.

Dr. Cornelius is Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Emeritus; and Theodore E. Gildred Professor of U.S.-Mexican Relations, Emeritus, at UCSD.More information:

Needle Sharing May Play a Major Role in Transmission of Syphilis

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee and coworkers in the Division of Global Public Health and the Department of Psychiatry are the authors of a new research report featured in the UCSD story, “Needle Sharing May Play a Major Role in Transmission of Syphilis.”

BusinessWeek, U.S.News & World Report, and local media including KPBS and 10News have carried the story.

Steffanie A. Strathdee, Ph.D., is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences and Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health; Director of the Center for Migration and Health; and Director of the Global Health Initiative at UCSD.

Other coauthors in the Division of Global Public Health are Melanie L. A. Rusch, M.Sc., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine; and postdoctoral fellow Oralia Loza, Ph.D. Dr. Loza is now Assistant Professor of Public Health Sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Study Confirms High Rate of TB Infection in Tijuana Injection Drug Users

A new research report from the Division of Global Public Health is pointing up the need for tuberculosis screening and treatment programs for injection drug users in the San Diego-Tijuana border region.Dr. Richard Garfein and his coworkers at UCSD and in Mexico have found that up to 67 percent of injection drug users in Tijuana test positive for TB infection.

This population, at risk for HIV, is vulnerable to the dangerous combination in which an HIV-weakened immune system allows a latent TB infection to become active.


Read the full story
from UCSD News


The data come from Proyecto el Cuete, a collaborative study that includes researchers from UC San Diego and two institutions in Tijuana.Principal investigator in the study is Richard Garfein, Ph.D., M.P.H., Associate Adjunct Professor of Medicine in the Division of Global Public Health.

Other Department of Medicine investigators in the study are Steffanie Strathdee, Ph.D., Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health and Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences; and Antonino Catanzaro, M.D., Professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.

The report is released in the May issue of the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.

More Information