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.

How Decriminalizing Drugs Might Affect the Spread of HIV in Tijuana

Richard Branson and experts debate the losing war on drugs — and its victims — at UC San Diego event —

As the 1960s came to a close, Richard Nixon famously declared a “war on drugs.” They were “public enemy number one,” the president said. Their menace demanded a full-throated federal effort of interdiction, eradication and incarceration.

The goal: No more illegal drugs. Period.

The reality: The war still rages. There are now more illegal drugs produced and consumed than ever.

If the war on drugs were one of his businesses, said Sir Richard Branson, the renowned British magnate, philanthropist and activist, it would have been shut down within a year. “It hasn’t worked at all, ever, but governments continue to ignore the facts, creating untold misery. Drug use isn’t a criminal problem. It’s a health problem.”
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Branson, who has become a major voice in the global drug policy debate, visited UC San Diego last week to participate in a panel discussion on global drug decriminalization and Tijuana’s HIV/AIDS epidemic, which is fueled in part by widespread drug use, notably the sharing of needles to inject black tar heroin. … Read the Full Feature Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Steffanie Strathdee, PhD

Steffanie Strathdee, PhD

The UC San Diego Global Health Institute (GHI) was a co-sponsor of the event. GHI Director Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, was moderator and host of the event.

Dr. Strathdee is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences, Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health in the Department of Medicine.

New Video Series Chronicles AIDS Epidemic in Tijuana

“HIV/SIDA: The Epidemic in Tijuana” focuses on UC San Diego researchers’ efforts to track and prevent the spread of HIV among the city’s most at-risk populations —

The new documentary “HIV/SIDA: The Epidemic in Tijuana” offers an unflinching look at the challenges facing researchers from the University of California, San Diego as they attempt to identify and treat people who inject drugs, sex workers, transgender women and others who are at high risk for HIV infection in Tijuana. The program, which was shot over two years, premieres Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. on UCSD-TV and can be viewed at www.uctv.tv/hiv-sida. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


The film features the efforts of Dr. Steffanie Strathdee, her Division of Global Public Health colleagues and a multidisciplinary, multinational team of medical professionals to trace and arrest the spread of AIDS in Tijuana.

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

The four-part documentary, based on the book Tomorrow Is a Long Time by Malcolm Linton and Jon Cohen, premiered on UCSD-TV on October 5. It was supported by funding from the Ford Foundation.

Find more about the documentary here: HIV/SIDA: The Epidemic in Tijuana – UCSD-TV – University of California Television.

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.

Richard Garfein and Kevin Patrick Named M2M Pioneers

Applying Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Technology to Verify Compliance with Tuberculosis Treatment Regimen

Dr. Richard Garfein

Dr. Richard Garfein

UC San Diego’s Richard Garfein and Kevin Patrick have been named M2M Pioneers for 2013 for their Video Directly Observed Therapy (VDOT) Program for tuberculosis.

The honor comes from Connected World magazine, which presents the M2M Pioneer awards to a small number of outstanding innovators in machine-to-machine technology each year.

The VDOT program uses smartphone video to verify that tuberculosis patients comply with the painstaking six-month regimen of antibiotics required for a cure. Incomplete treatment fails to cure the TB and raises the risk that antibiotic-resistant strains of TB will develop.

Richard Garfein, PhD, MPH, an infectious disease epidemiologist, is professor of medicine in the Division of Global Public Health. The inspiration for the VDOT program came to him as he watched his children use smartphones to send videos to their friends.

Dr. Kevin Patrick

Dr. Kevin Patrick

Kevin Patrick, MD, MS, is director of the Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems at the Qualcomm Institute (the San Diego division of Calit2) and professor of family and preventive medicine in the Division of Preventive Medicine.

In their NIH-funded pilot study in San Diego and Tijuana in 2011-2012, Garfein and Patrick demonstrated that the VDOT program was an effective tool for ensuring that patients adhered to their treatment regimens.

They also showed that VDOT could reduce costs for the local public health agency; in the pilot study, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency. The agency’s only previous option had been to send health workers to patients’ homes to watch them take their medications.

Garfein and Patrick reported their results in an mHealth Summit Meeting abstract published in the Journal of Mobile Technology in Medicine.

Now, Garfein and colleagues are working on implementing the program on a larger scale through a public/private partnership with the Verizon Foundation, which provides funding and in-kind assistance.

The Garfein-Patrick team included other faculty and staff of the Global Public Health division and a number of specialists from the Qualcomm Institute.

Steffanie Strathdee, PhD

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee. Image ©International AIDS Society/Marcus Rose/Workers’ Photos. Used with permission.

“Congratulations to them both, and to Ramesh Rao and their team from the Qualcomm Institute, for this fantastic achievement and excellent teamwork,” said Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, Harold Simon Professor, Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences and chief of the Division of Global Public Health.

Ramesh Rao, PhD, director of the San Diego division of the Qualcomm Institute, holds the QUALCOMM Endowed Chair in Telecommunications and Information Technology. He is professor of electrical and computer engineering in the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego.

Said Garfein, “Working with Kevin and collaborating with the expert programmers at the Qualcomm Institute has been one of the highlights of my academic career.

“Although they are not included in the article because of the magazine’s information technology focus, we wouldn’t have been as successful if it weren’t for all the hard work by Jazmine Cuevas-Mota, Kelly Collins, and Fatima Muñoz in the Division of Global Public Health, and the dedicated employees of the San Diego County TB Control Program led by Dr. Kathleen Moser,” he said.

In the Division of Global Public Health, Cuevas-Mota is a project coordinator for Garfein, Collins is an assistant project coordinator and Muñoz is a postdoctoral fellow on the project.

“This has been a terrific project and it’s been a true pleasure to work with Richard and his team on it,” said Patrick.

“With a bit of luck, this could have world-wide impact on the health of the public. When all is said and done, this is why we are in this game.”

“This is very exciting and well deserved,” said Susan Taylor, PhD, UC San Diego professor of chemistry and biochemistry and pharmacology. She is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator in biophysics and structural biology.

“It has been so much fun for me to watch these amazing things unfold and to realize how much we can achieve by working together and building bridges across the boundaries of our campus. This is much of what makes UCSD so special.

UC San Diego Health Sciences Video: VDOT Technology Eases Monitoring for Patients with Tuberculosis

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Global Public Health Division’s Projects Highlighted During Chancellor’s Visit to Tijuana Clinic

University of California, San Diego, Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla’s visit to Tijuana, B.C., on May 3 included a stop at the Health Frontiers in Tijuana (HFiT) Clinic, a free clinic where students and faculty from the UC San Diego Division of Global Public Health team up with their counterparts from the Universidad Autónomo de Baja California (UABC) to provide health care in one of the poorest parts of Tijuana.

Chancellor Pradeep Khosla and Jose Luis Burgos.

Dr. Jose Luis Burgos with Chancellor Khosla outside HFiT Clinic. Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

In the photo above, Chancellor Khosla speaks with Jose Luis Burgos, MD, MPH, outside the clinic. An assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Global Public Health, Burgos is a faculty mentor at the clinic and a specialist in global health and development. His current research project: The Role of Economic Evaluation in Translating HIV/AIDS Behavioral Interventions.

At the HFiT Clinic, faculty mentors from both UC San Diego and UABC direct the medical students, fellows and other medical trainees in caring for patients.  The clinic is now a part of MED 239, an elective course for medical students in the UCSD School of Medicine.

The students and faculty working in the clinic also contribute to global public health division projects investigating prevention of HIV and STD, substance abuse, policing practices and sex trafficking.  |  More about current projects

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee at work in the El Cuete program.

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee during a visit to Tijuana for the El Cuete program, a global public health division epidemiology project tracing HIV, tuberculosis and other infections among injection drug users.

During her presentation on the chancellor’s tour, global public health division chief Steffanie Strathdee said, “We align research, training and service. And we, the professors, learn as much from the students as they learn from us.”

Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, is associate dean of global health sciences, Harold Simon Professor and chief of the Division of Global Public Health and director of the Global Health Initiative at UC San Diego.

Strathdee’s current research projects: Impact of Drug Policy Reform on the HIV Risk Environment Among IDUs in Tijuana (El Cuete, Phase IV) and HIV/STI Risks among FSWs and Their Non-Commercial Partners (Proyecto Parejas).

Jay Silverman, PhD

Dr. Jay Silverman. Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

At left below, global public health professor Dr. Jay Silverman speaks during a presentation about the division’s work in Tijuana.

Silverman is regarded as the world’s leading public health authority on trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation.

He is principal investigator of the first R01 research grant the National Institutes of Health has ever issued on sex trafficking. Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the four-year project is “Epidemiology of Sex Trafficking, Drug Use and HIV at the U.S.-Mexico Border.”

Drs. Kimberly Brouwer (below) and Victoria Ojeda also presented their projects during the tour.

Dr. Kimberly Brouwer

Dr. Kimberly Brouwer during her presentation in Tijuana. Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

Brouwer is an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Global Public Health. Her work focuses on the spatial and molecular epidemiology of infectious diseases.

She is principal investigator of two R01 research grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one investigating factors that influence HIV transmission in the U.S. – Mexico border region: Evolving HIV/STI Risk Environments of FSWS on the Mexico/U.S. Border.

Victoria Ojeda (below) is an assistant professor in the global health division. Her project, “Social Incorporation Following Deportation and Implications for Health Status and Access to Care,” is based at the HFiT Clinic.

Dr. Victoria Ojeda

Dr. Victoria Ojeda.

Funding for the project comes from Ojeda’s 2012-2013 University of California Global Health Institute (GloCal) Health Fellowship, one of only three such fellowships awarded last year.

Below, Ojeda is pictured at the HFiT Clinic.

Dr. Victoria Ojeda.

Dr. Victoria Ojeda at the HFiT Clinic in Tijuana, where her GloCal Fellowship project is based.

 


Global public health division faculty with Pradeep Khosla, UC San Diego chancellor.

Chancellor Khosla with members of the Division of Global Public Health.

Sources

Chancellor Khosla’s visit to Tijuana was covered in Kristin Luciani’s UCSD News story, “Cross-Border Connections: Chancellor Visits Tijuana to Learn about Industry, Healthcare and Education,” released May 9. The photos for that story and the images of Drs. Burgos, Silverman and Brouwer and the group shown here are by Erik Jepsen of UC San Diego Publications.

For more information about the global public health division’s projects in the U.S. – Mexico border area and elsewhere in the world, visit the Division of Global Public Health academic website.

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.

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