Corinne Sokolik, a second year medical student at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, has received a Student Intern Research Award from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. The $2,000 award will enable her to spend the summer researching reproductive health decision-making among young HIV infected women. The Office of Student Research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine will match the grant.
In her project, called "Reproductive Health Decision Making Among Adolescents," Ms. Sokolik will collect data from anonymous questionnaires completed by young women ages 12 to 24, who are sexually active or HIV positive. This survey, which will be conducted at the University of Maryland Adolescent and Young Adult Center, will include questions about demographics, risk behavior, history of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV knowledge and substance abuse. Participants will also be asked about social support, fertility concerns, and opinions on pregnancy.
"This is a great opportunity to study HIV infected adolescents' views on sexuality and pregnancy," says Ms. Sokolik. "The goal of the project is to learn what young women, including those who are HIV positive, think regarding reproduction. Once we understand this, we can improve the way we educate adolescents about pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV prevention," adds Ms. Sokolik.
"As health care professionals, it is particularly important that we understand reproductive decision making among HIV-infected young women, so that we can effectively provide preventive and clinical care," says Ligia Peralta, M.D., director of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at the University of Maryland Hospital for Children, who will serve as Ms. Sokolik's research mentor. Dr. Peralta, who is also an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, adds, "National statistics show that young minority women are being greatly impacted by the HIV epidemic, while pregnancy rates among HIV-infected young woman are on the rise."
Ms. Sokolik's interest in adolescent medicine peaked earlier this year when she held smoking cessation courses at a local high school. "Because of my interest in adolescent medicine, I think it is important to be involved in the field of HIV and AIDS," she adds.
"We are grateful for the support of this third Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation Award received by our Adolescent HIV Program so that we can continue to foster future medical professionals committed to work in the area of HIV and AIDS among youths," says Dr. Peralta.
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation's mission is to identify, fund and conduct pediatric research to ensure children are at the forefront of every scientific breakthrough. The Student Intern Research Award was founded on the premise that the Foundation needs to invest in today's youth so they will be tomorrow's leading scientists.
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