The University of Bridgeport, Greater Bridgeport Adolescent Pregnancy Program (GBAPP) and Bridgeport Health Department will launch Odyssey Program, a campaign to reduce the onset of HIV/AIDS and substance abuse among college students on Monday, December 6.
Official ceremonies will be held at 10 a.m. in the duPont Tower Room, 9th floor of the Arnold Bernhard Center, 84 Iranistan Avenue.
Speakers will include Neil Albert Salonen, President, University of Bridgeport; Amy Lippos, Constituent Services Representative, Office of Congressman Jim Himes, D-CT; Dr. Rudy Feudo, Executive Director, GBAPP; and Bill Quinn, Acting Director, Greater Bridgeport Health & Social Services Department, City of Bridgeport.
Funded by a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Odyssey Project builds upon collaborative efforts by UB and GBAPP to promote informed and healthy lifestyle decisions by college-age students.
“As educators and health experts, UB and GBAPP have a unique opportunity to reach individuals who, national studies show, are more likely to jeopardize their health through risky behavior. We currently offer confidential counseling and HIV testing on campus. The Odyssey Project builds on current outreach campaigns to increase the likelihood that students will make healthy, informed decisions,” said Melissa Lopez, director of Health Services at UB.
Health experts say such campus-based campaigns are needed across the U.S.
The spread of HIV/AIDS remains a major health concern that disproportionally affects individuals 18 to 24. Moreover, college students are more prone to risk than non-college students. According to findings by SAMHSA “Survey on Drug Use and Health”:
- College students are more likely to use alcohol, binge drink, and drink more heavily than their peers who are not enrolled in school.
- Frequent, heavy, episodic drinkers were 21 times more likely than were other drinkers to experience five or more of 12 alcohol-related problems, including risk behaviors associated with sexual activity.
- Students in college discussion groups reported that they engage in high-risk behavior because the lack of prevention messages, they felt personally disconnected from the risk of contracting HIV, and/or they falsely believed they could determine a sex partner’s HIV status by someone’s physical appearance, a Centers for Disease Control investigation concluded.
The Odyssey Program at UB will take aim at such misperceptions through public awareness campaigns and other activities. Students also will have access to information through coordinated efforts with UB professors in psychology and other related classes, said Lopez.
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