MPH Student Spreads Awareness to Prevent HIV Transmission

MPH Student Spreads Awareness to Prevent HIV Transmission

On a purple background, a white banner sits with information about PrEP aware week in bright pink text. The text says "October 25-31, let's make everyone Aware that PrEP can prevent HIV."

 ALBANY, N.Y. (September 3, 2020) – Master of Public Health student Anthony Malloni is creating a toolkit for colleges to use for PrEP Aware Week (October 25-31, 2020), which aims to increase pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) awareness and uptake.

“PrEP is a medication that, if taken properly, will prevent HIV transmission,” Malloni explains. “If PrEP is more accessible in our communities, then we have the potential to end the spread of HIV in our lifetime.”

The toolkit development is Malloni’s main project for his internship at the New York State Department of Health’s AIDS Institute, a partner institution for UAlbany’s Center for Collaborative HIV Research in Practice and Policy (CCHRPP). Designed with college students as the target audience, it includes graphics, PrEP activity ideas, videos, educational materials, social media posts, and resources to order PrEP promotional materials. Malloni also connected with college health and wellness centers, clubs, and campus residential offices across the state to increase the reach of toolkit.

“Our goal with this toolkit is to make PrEP Aware Week easy for colleges to implement for their campus communities,” says Malloni. “From my friend circles, I’ve seen firsthand what a difference PrEP has made in making sex safer and relatively stress free. HIV education and prevention are still prevalent public health issues that must continue to be addressed.”

To bring the toolkit to life, Malloni has worked remotely for forty hours a week at the AIDS Institute. He notes that the pandemic has made it challenging to reach the target audience due to social distancing and remote higher education, but the AIDS Institute is committed to finding innovative ways to reach college students with information about PrEP. In addition, he’s applied his coursework to combat obstacles due to the pandemic.

“I took Program Development with Dr. Christine Bolzak last spring and it has been really useful for my internship,” Malloni says. “The course taught me about the fundamentals and skills of creating a health program. This was helpful when working with stakeholders of PrEP Aware Week and working on the messaging to our college student demographic, especially while working remotely.”

Going forward, Malloni hopes to work in a policy-related position for infectious diseases like HIV. He stresses that often there are preventative treatments that can improve public health, but these treatments often do not reach their full potential due to a lack of effective health policy.

“I want to work in a position where I can help ensure that treatments like PrEP are able to be fully utilized to help the public,” Malloni states. “Through my current internship, I’m proud to already be fulfilling my career aspirations to improve people’s lives and create a positive change in society.”