TCU’s Institute of Behavioral Research utilizes its $3.1 million portion of a larger $11.5 million grant to advance its ACTION research project.

A phase of that project includes the Mobile Health Unit, which will serve individuals with HIV and opioid use disorder and initially concentrate on historically underserved areas including Northside, Como, Diamond Hill, and Eastside/Stop Six neighborhoods.

Kevin Knight, director of the IBR, says, “We are targeting Tarrant County justice-involved individuals, for example the 15,000 individuals currently on probation, with drug use problems (particularly opioids or meth) and who either have or are at risk of acquiring HIV. Drug use and HIV risk often go hand in hand among those in the criminal justice system.”

ACTION, which stands for “Addressing Risk Through Community Treatment for Infectious Disease and Opioid Use Disorder Now Among Justice-Involved Populations,” is led by experts at TCU, Yale, and UT Southwestern and includes partnerships with service provider leaders in the participating communities.

ACTION represents the opportunity to engage in a community-wide effort focused on addressing gaps along the service/prevention cascade of care for the target population, with the primary goal being the improvement of linkage to HIV prevention and treatment, as well as medication for opioid use disorder and related services.

“Regarding drug use In Texas, the number of opioid overdose deaths has more than quadrupled since 1999, and the state ranks 12th in the country in the number of opioid related overdose deaths in 2016 with 1,375, and second in the country for total health care costs from opioid misuse at nearly $2 billion per year,” says Knight.

Delivery of the unit will happen in early October, and data collection begins by late November.

The MHU features two exam rooms, blood draw station, an exam table, and medical refrigerators. IBR staff will be operating the unit with medical services provided by JPS Health Network.

Select students from the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine will be assisting as part of their four-year Scholarly Pursuit and Thesis course.

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