Jackson State University’s Community Health Program (CHP) was established in 1992 by Dr. Janet St. Lawrence and soon became a national leader in HIV/STD prevention research. Housed in the Department of Psychology, the mission of the CHP is to help end health disparities by conducting research, providing training opportunities for students from the Ph.D. and undergraduate psychology programs, and providing service(s) that address the needs of underserved populations in the community.
Over the years, CHP functioned primarily as a research unit within the department of psychology. The CHP conducted HIV/STD and drug/alcohol prevention research and services for underserved populations including: inner city African American adolescents, adolescents in detention centers, low-income women, incarcerated men and women, men, women and adolescents in substance abuse treatment facilities and minority college and university students. Our research was funded through a series of both federally (NIDA, NICHD, NIMH, CDC, OHAP) and state (Mississippi State Department of Health and Mississippi Department of Safety) funded grants.
The CHP also served and continues to serve as a training site for both graduate and undergraduate students who are interested in health behavior research and service. Students work on funded grants, learn to implement evidence based interventions, access and use existing databases for their own research, conduct outreach events and educational presentations. To date, three dissertations and four second year papers have been completed using data from CHP databases.
Funded grants have allowed CHP to provide free services for students at JSU and the surrounding community. CHP, through its Project S.A.F.E. HIV testing program, currently provides free HIV testing for students, faculty, staff and the community. Project S.A.F.E. began with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CHP began the first violence prevention program on the campus of JSU with a grant from the Department of Safety. Most recently, CHP expanded its services to include peer led HIV prevention educational sessions. Our Peer Health Education Program is run primarily by undergraduate students here at JSU. The students conduct HIV prevention educational presentations in classrooms, dorms, and forums on campus. They also conduct outreach events and sponsor activities during the national HIV observance days. The Peer Health Educators are becoming popular. They have been invited to present at local churches, community based organizations and the NAACP annual state convention. The peer education program originally began with a grant from the Office of HIV/AIDS prevention in 2011.
This year, CHP was given an opportunity to expand its services to address the needs of students who self-identify as LGBTQ through a $45,000 grant funded by ViiV Healthcare’s ACCELERATE initiative. This project (The MAC Initiative) will address issues of stigma and promote empowerment among African American male college students at JSU who self-identify as men who have sex with men.