STAR Community Link Newsletter
HIV Link is now called STAR Community Link, to reflect the STAR Program’s expansion beyond HIV care and its connection to the local and global communities it serves.
The mission of the Special Treatment and Research (STAR) Program is to provide and enhance quality healthcare locally and globally through the integration of treatment, prevention, research, and education.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Special Treatment and Research (STAR) Program, headed by Distinguished Service Professor, Jack DeHovitz, MD, MPH, FACP, has expanded its efforts to provide HIV prevention services to HIV negative populations. A new round of grant awards is enabling STAR to enhance existing prevention strategies to men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender populations, and high risk young adults. The STAR Health Center (SHC), the STAR Program’s outpatient primary care clinic, began providing care to individuals regardless of HIV status in 2009, beginning with the provision of buprenorphine treatment for opioid addiction.
STAR has been awarded $1.9 million over 3 years in new funding from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to provide enhanced HIV prevention services throughout Brooklyn using the latest biomedical tools, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) for HIV. PrEP is a is a relatively new HIV prevention strategy in which an HIV-negative person takes a daily pill to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV. PEP is a strategy to prevent HIV infection after a possible recent exposure by taking HIV medications within 3 days after a single high-risk event. According to Dr. DeHovitz, “PrEP and PEP are effective tools to prevent HIV infection and these new funds will allow us to expand access to them in Brooklyn’s high prevalence communities.” Program staff will engage and recruit those eligible for PEP/PrEP as part of a comprehensive prevention plan which includes access to condoms, prevention programs for persons living with HIV and their partners and individuals at high-risk of HIV infection, substance abuse treatment, and screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
New grants include “Evidence-Based Interventions for Biomedical Prevention in Clinical Settings” via PrEP ($750,000 over 3 years). The program will provide education, care coordination, prevention navigation and clinical care. It will target Black and Hispanic men and women in high prevalence neighborhoods; MSM; transgender persons; individuals engaging in transactional sex; and persons with HIV+ partners. Another award ($759,000 over 3 years) will establish a “PEP Center of Excellence” (COE).
The Brooklyn PEP COE will be targeted to the same populations, and clients will be identified through internal and external collaborations and through social media. The new projects will be spearheaded by Dr. Elliot DeHaan, Director, SHC Hepatitis C Services. Dr. DeHaan has played a pivotal role in the development of prevention and treatment services for HIV and HCV as well as providing leadership to the development of the SHC’s LGBT Health Initiative. Tracey Griffith, MHA, serves as program manager for the PrEP and PEP projects as well as HCV services. A third award ($399,531 over 3 years) will enable STAR to establish the “Status-Neutral Program,” to provide care coordination services to HIV negative individuals at risk for HIV infection, modeled on the success of its Medical Case Management (MCM) – Care Coordination Program for HIV+ clients. Lori Hurley, LMSW, MPH, who has directed the existing MCM program since its inception in 2010, and has led SHC’s efforts in its efforts to outreach to the LGBT community, will provide leadership to the new Status-Neutral Program.
The STAR Program was also awarded Ryan White Part A funding to provide “Harm Reduction Services” ($1,485,000 over 3 years). The program will address the specific needs of HIV+ persons who struggle with recent and/or a history of addiction, allowing clients to receive support and education, structured around risk reduction. The program will encourage HIV adherence and self-management through multiple interventions, including the provision of safe and practical strategies to reduce risks of substance use through individual, group and family counseling; psycho-educational forums discussing the benefits of decreased use; use of Motivational Interviewing and Seeking Safety as evidence-based interventions; non-judgmental support to encourage treatment with medical professionals; buprenorphine treatment for the uninsured; and provision of auricular (ear) acupuncture as an adjunct to substance use treatment. Peggy Noel, LCSW, MLSP, will provide leadership for the new project. Peggy is an experienced mental health and substance use treatment provider who formerly managed the SAMHSA funded HIV/Substance Abuse Treatment for Minority Women Program.
STAR’s Adolescent Education Program (AEP) headed by Christine Rucker, MA, has been awarded 2 grants this year totaling $2.6 million. Central to the success of both projects is the use of Teens Helping Each Other (THEO) peer educators. The NYS Department of Health AIDS Institute awarded funding for the “THEO Youth Health Advocate (YHA) Program,” which provides evidence-based, age appropriate & medically accurate sexuality education to youth at the highest risk for HIV/STD/HCV ($1,000,000 over 5 years). The program trains Youth Health Advocates (YHA) to provide prevention outreach and evidence-based intervention services to high risk youth between the ages of 13-24 in Central Brooklyn. The YHA Team members provide services to young people living with HIV, young MSM, court-involved youth, children of incarcerated parents, and young women formerly involved in sex trafficking, who are residing in residential care programs. Participants receive referrals to screenings, treatments and clinical services through the HEAT Program, which provides care to at-risk and HIV+ youth, age 13-24. AEP was also awarded funding from the NYS Department of Health for the “Personal Education Responsibility Program” ($1,625,000 over 5 years). Teen peer educators provide comprehensive, evidence-based, age appropriate and medically accurate sexuality education to young people at the highest level of risk for pregnancy and HIV/STD infections. The program will develop both cognitive and behavior skills development, including strategies and practice in communication and negotiation. Proposed activities are aimed at changing the risk behaviors of targeted youth via: 1) increasing their knowledge base through evidence-based programing; 2) promoting risk reduction, including delaying unplanned pregnancies, high risk sexual activity and increasing the use of barrier and other prevention strategies.
For more information about the new initiatives, please contact:
PrEP & PEP Services
Elliot DeHaan, MD – 718.270.2471 email@example.com
Tracey Griffith, MHA – 718.270.1715 firstname.lastname@example.org
Lori Hurley, LMSW, MPH – 718.613.8342 email@example.com
Peggy Noel, LCSW, MLSP – 718.270.4054 firstname.lastname@example.org
THEO Youth Health Advocate Program & Personal Education Responsibility Program
Christine Rucker, MA – 718.270.3203 email@example.com
SAVE THE DATES:
1. STAR Program’s World AIDS Day Quilt Display & Program, Thursday, December 1, 2016, 10am-4pm, SUNY Downstate Atrium (Health Science Education Building)
2. Adolescent Education Program’s Annual World AIDS Day Teen Town Hall, Friday, December 2, 2016, 5pm-7pm, SUNY Downstate Auditorium (Health Science Education Building)
COMMUNITY PARTNER SPOTLIGHT
STAR Program’s AETC Partners with Beacon Christian Community Health Center in Staten Island
As part of the HRSA-funded Northeast-Caribbean AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC), the STAR Program’s Regional Partner location at SUNY Downstate has been providing continuing education to HIV providers in Brooklyn and Staten Island for more than 15 years. Recently, AETC added a new initiative, “Practice Transformation,” which aims to aid in improving HIV care services. This level of assistance is much more comprehensive than training; practice transformation offers a structure for clinical sites to identify gaps in service, provides ‘coaching,’ education and technical assistance on a systems-wide basis. Michele Wilson, MPH, AETC Program Coordinator, completed her training as a Practice Transformation coach with the University of Buffalo in August 2015 and co-manages this project, along with David Odegaard, MPH from STAR’s professional education unit. Our identified partner for this initiative is Beacon Christian Community Health Center (BCCHC), a faith-based Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) that provides comprehensive primary care in the Mariner’s Harbor neighborhood of Staten Island, (https://www.cchf.org/about/).
Staten Island is notable for several health disparities in recent years including HIV and substance abuse. Although the prevalence of HIV in Staten Island is low, Staten Island now surpasses the Bronx as the borough with the highest HIV-related mortality rate. Staten Island also has the lowest rates of HIV testing of the five boroughs. Low testing rates and high stigma surrounding HIV can pave the path for patients to enter the healthcare system at a relatively late stage in their disease, which in turn may account for high mortality rates. Recently Staten Island has been the focus of media attention related to its opioid epidemic; in 2015 the borough recorded the highest rate of overdose deaths involving prescription pain medication and had the second highest overdose rate involving heroin.
BCCHC is one of the few community-based clinics that offers services to people with HIV in Staten Island. Sharon Chu, MD, is the key HIV specialist clinician at BCCHC; Dr. Chu received her MPH degree from SUNY Downstate’s School of Public Health and has received enhanced training with STAR’s AETC program, including preceptorships in HIV primary care and anal cancer screening. As part of Dr. Chu’s dedication to improving HIV services for the Staten Island community, she often consults on HIV patient care with Jameela Yusuff, MD, MPH, STAR Health Center Medical Director. Recently, David Odegaard and Patricia DiFusco, MS, NP-C, FNP-BC, faculty from Downstate’s School of Nursing, provided the BCCHC staff with an overview of Staten Island’s HIV challenges, changes in HIV testing law, and a primer on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV (PrEP). Scaling up PrEP is one of BCCHC’s identified goals for Practice Transformation, in addition to implementing anal cancer screening and improving HIV testing acceptance rates. We look forward to continuing this exciting collaboration with Beacon Christian Community Health Center!
Simone Abbott, RN, CNM joined the STAR Program as a Certified Nurse Midwife in August 2016. She works part-time in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) and provides prenatal care in the Family Focused HIV Health Care for Women Program (FFHCP). Ms. Abbott is a Certified Nurse Midwife who received her BS in Nursing from Howard University and an MA in Midwifery from New York University. She has extensive women’s health care experience and has been a practicing midwife for 14 years at Maimonides Medical Center and in private practice.
Mary Crymes, RN, ACRN, Charge Nurse at the STAR Health Center and active member of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) since 1998, was recognized by ANAC for her work in addressing hunger and food instability in Brooklyn. With the support of the local Greater New York ANAC chapter, she started a grocery gift card program for patients in need of emergency food supplies. She initiated this program when one of her patients came for a visit and had lost 13 pounds in a very short period of time due to lack of food. Ms. Crymes purchased food for him using her own money until he received his first paycheck. Now, she is securing donations from a local Brooklyn grocery store chain and these donations are being matched by the chapter and individual members for other patients in need. As one of her colleagues remarked: “Mary is a remarkable person and always puts her patients first and foremost.”
Mark Frederick joined the STAR Program as a Patient Navigator with the Behavioral Health Team. Prior to joining STAR, Mr. Frederick worked at the AIDS Service Center of NYC in lower Manhattan, where he provided services as a Health Coach supporting patients by helping them stay linked to medical care, practicing adhering to medications, and promoting harm reduction. He also worked at Exponents as a harm reduction mentor and later as a substance use counselor where he facilitated recovery skills, healthy relationships, and LGBTQ groups. He has a CASAC-T and over 10 years of experience in the field of substance use treatment and prevention.
Vanessa Gonzalez, AS joined the STAR Program as a Patient Navigator with the Medical Case Management (MCM) program. Prior to joining STAR, Ms. Gonzalez worked at Grand Street Settlement’s Community High School at Foundations Academy in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where she provided college counseling, facilitated the Gender and Sexuality (Gay/Straight) Alliance, and conducted outreach to local organizations. She has additional experience as a case manager at a shelter in Massachusetts, where she assisted families with rehousing plans and facilitated family workshops. She also facilitated parenting groups, assisted with entitlements, and provided health education at Healthy Families, a federal program that works with pregnant women and mothers under 21. She has an Associate of Science degree from Mount Wachusett Community College.
Lorraine Sanassi, PA-C, MHSc, DHSc, joined the STAR Program in October 2016 as Coordinator of the HIV Track Physician Assistant (PA) Program. Dr. Sanassi earned a Bachelor of Science in PA Studies at St. John’s University, a Master of Health Science at Drexel University, and a Doctorate of Health Science from Nova Southeastern University. She worked at Wyckoff Hospital as an emergency medicine PA for 8 years and then at New York Presbyterian Queens for 2 years (same specialty). Since 2014, she has served as Assistant Professor in the PA Program of SUNY Downstate’s College of Health Related Professions. As the HIV Track PA Program Coordinator, she oversees the curricula and clerkships for the HIV Track PA students and integrates HIV topics into the overall PA Program. She will also have a continuity panel of HIV patients in the STAR Health Center. The HIV Track is one of several new strategies from HRSA’s AIDS Education and Treatment Center grant funded programs to build the capacity of the HIV specialist clinical workforce.
Mabel Martinez-Almonte, OTR/L, received the STAR Program’s Employee Recognition Award in October 2016. Ms. Martinez-Almonte was selected for her determination, hard work and effectiveness in the STAR Health Center where she works as both a case manager and as a counselor. She always maintains a very positive and friendly attitude towards clients and staff, and can work under pressure to manage stressful situations. Ms. Martinez-Almonte is a graduate of SUNY Downstate’s College of Health Related Professions (CHRP). She worked on the inpatient psychiatry unit at SUNY Downstate for 24 years, and supervised Occupational Therapy (OT) students for 23 years. She also served as an adjunct professor in CHRP’s OT program. She received a supervisor of the year award in 2009. She earned a Master’s degree in mental health counseling from the Nyack Alliance Graduate School of Counseling.
Brittney Watford, BA, received the STAR Program’s Employee Recognition Award in June 2016. She has provided exemplary service as a Patient Navigator for STAR’s Care Coordination Program for the past 2 years, maintaining patients in care through daily visits to homes and neighborhoods throughout New York City. In addition to her deep commitment to STAR patients, Ms. Watford has demonstrated unique collegiality and leadership skills within our interdisciplinary team, proving herself to be an outstanding role model for all.
See cover article for information on the latest grant awards.
Haddad LB, Wall KM, Mehta CC, Golub ET, Rahangdale L, Kempf MC, Karim R, Wright R, Minkoff H, Cohen M, Kassaye S, Cohan D, Ofotokun I, Cohn SE. Trends of and factors associated with live-birth and abortion rates among HIV-positive and HIV-negative women. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Sep 15.
Massad L, Keller M, Xie X, Minkoff H, Palefsky J, DʼSouza G, Colie C, Villacres M, Strickler H. Multitype Infections With Human Papillomavirus: Impact of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Coinfection. Sex Transm Dis. 2016 Oct;43(10):637-41.
Minkoff H, Zafra K, Amrita S, Wilson TE, Homel P. Physician morality and perinatal decisions. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2016 Aug 31;206:36-40.
Atallah F, McCalla S, Karakash S, Minkoff H. Please put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others: a call to arms to battle burnout. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Aug 25.
Gustafson DR, Mielke MM, Keating SA, Holman S, Minkoff H, Crystal HA. Leptin, Adiponectin and Cognition in Middle-aged HIV-infected and Uninfected Women. The Brooklyn Women’s Interagency HIV Study. J Gerontol Geriatr Res. 2015 Oct;4(5).
Reimers LL, Mehta SD, Massad LS, Burk RD, Xie X, Ravel J, Cohen MH, Palefsky JM, Weber K, Xue X, Anastos K, Minkoff H, Atrio J, D’Souza G, Ye Q, Colie C, Zolnik CP, Spear GT, Strickler HD. The Cervicovaginal Microbiota and Its Associations with Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Detection in HIV-Infected and HIV-Uninfected Women. J Infect Dis. 2016 Aug 11.
Narasimhulu DM, Karakash S, Weedon J, Minkoff H. Patterns of Internet Use by Pregnant Women, and Reliability of Pregnancy-Related Searches. Matern Child Health J. 2016 Jul 25.
Mor A, Haberman S, Kalgi B, Minkoff H. A Sanitary Pad for Self-Assessment of Rupture of Membranes. Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Aug;128(2):331-6.
Zhang Y, Waterboer T, Pawlita M, Sugar E, Minkoff H, Cranston RD, Wiley D, Burk R, Reddy S, Margolick J, Strickler H, Weber K, Gillison M, D’Souza G. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) 16 E6 seropositivity is elevated in subjects with oral HPV16 infection. Cancer Epidemiol. 2016 Aug;43:30-4.
Taylor TN, Munoz-Plaza CE, Goparaju L, Martinez O, Holman S, Minkoff HL, Karpiak SE, Gandhi M, Cohen MH, Golub ET, Levine AM, Adedimeji AA, Gonsalves R, Bryan T, Connors N, Schechter G, Wilson TE. “The Pleasure Is Better as I’ve Gotten Older”: Sexual Health, Sexuality, and Sexual Risk Behaviors Among Older Women Living With HIV. Arch Sex Behav. 2016 May 24.
Keller MJ, McGinn AP, Lo Y, Huber A, Espinoza L, Minkoff H, Colie C, Nowicki MJ, D’Souza G, Anastos K. Longitudinal Assessment of Systemic and Genital Tract Inflammatory Markers and Endogenous Genital Tract E. coli Inhibitory Activity in HIV-Infected and Uninfected Women. Am J Reprod Immunol. 2016 Jun;75(6):631-42.
Ahmed AI, Zhu L, Aldhaheri S, Sakr S, Minkoff H, Haberman S. Uterine tachysystole in spontaneous labor at term. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2016 Oct;29(20):3335-9.
Gustafson DR, Shi Q, Thurn M, Holman S, Minkoff H, Cohen M, Plankey MW, Havlik R, Sharma A, Gange S, Gandhi M, Milam J, Hoover D. Frailty and Constellations of Factors in Aging HIV-infected and Uninfected Women–The Women’s Interagency HIV Study. J Frailty Aging. 2016;5(1):43-8.
Minkoff H, Zafra K, Amrita S, Wilson TE, Homel P. Physician morality and perinatal decisions.Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2016 Aug 31;206:36-40.
Decker MR, Benning L, Weber KM, Sherman SG, Adedimeji A, Wilson TE, Cohen J, Plankey MW, Cohen MH, Golub ET. Physical and Sexual Violence Predictors: 20 Years of the Women’s Interagency HIV Study Cohort. Am J Prev Med. 2016 Aug 29.
Turan B, Smith W, Cohen MH, Wilson TE, Adimora AA, Merenstein D, Adedimeji A, Wentz EL, Foster AG, Metsch L, Tien PC, Weiser SD, Turan JM. Mechanisms for the Negative Effects of Internalized HIV-Related Stigma on Antiretroviral Therapy Adherence in Women: The Mediating Roles of Social Isolation and Depression. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2016 Jun 1;72(2):198-205.
Gardner LI, Marks G, Shahani L, Giordano TP, Wilson TE, Drainoni ML, Keruly JC, Batey DS, Metsch LR. Assessing efficacy of a retention-in-care intervention among HIV patients with depression, anxiety, heavy alcohol consumption and illicit drug use. AIDS. 2016 Apr 24;30(7):1111-9.
All programs listed below are part of SUNY Downstate Medical Center. For more information about the services each program provides, please call the numbers listed or the STAR Program at:
(718) 270-2301 or 4736
PATIENT CARE AND SERVICES
STAR Health Center (SHC):
Behavioral Health Services:
Family-Centered Care Program:
(FCCP) (718) 270-2357 or 3745
Health & Education Alternatives For Teens (HEAT) Program:
Infant and Child Learning Center (ICLC):
COMMUNITY AND MEDICAL EDUCATION
Prevention Services for Adolescent and Young Adults – SUNY Adolescent Education Program (AEP)/Teens Helping Each Other (THEO):
HIV Residency Track:
Physician Assistant HIV Track:
Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS):
Jack A. DeHovitz, MD, MPH, FACP
Kathleen A. Russell, MPH, JD
Mary Crymes, RN
Yolene Gousse, DrPH, MPH
Ellen Honey, LMSW
Christopher Jimenez, LMHC, CASAC
David Odegaard, MPH
Adrienne Pierce, MS
Christine Rucker, MA
Kathleen Russell, MPH, JD
Phone: (718) 270-2301
Fax: (718) 270-3386