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Public Health

Substance Abuse and HIV Prevention in Minority Communities

Consistent with national trends, the rate of youth in San Diego County diagnosed with HIV has become alarmingly high, particularly among minority youth. Injection drug use and unprotected sexual intercourse have been identified as the most common modes of transmission. In an attempt to reduce these risk-related behaviors, in 2002 Mental Health Systems, Inc. took over the final two years of a three-year grant awarded by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP). The goal of this project is to reduce the behaviors associated with the spread of substance abuse-related HIV and other infectious diseases in communities in the North Inland Region of San Diego County with juvenile populations most likely to be at risk. In collaboration with youth-serving organizations, the program will target at-risk youth, families, and the community to receive outreach and education through an integrated curriculum of HIV and substance abuse prevention strategies.

The project also includes an evaluation conducted by SANDAG to determine whether the program design was implemented as planned and to assess the impact of program participation on the target population. Evaluation efforts are directed at documenting the level of outreach and education accomplished. SANDAG will also administer intake, exit, and follow-up interviews with youth six months after program completion to assess the extent to which these services reduced the risk behaviors related to HIV exposure.

Project Manager

Dr. Cynthia Burke, Director, Research and Program Management
Phone: (619) 699-1910, Email:

For media inquiries, please contact the SANDAG Public Information Office at (619) 699-1950 or