Syndemics Project/Proyecto Sindemias

A National Institutes of Health funded project

This is a 5-year research project led by Dr. Mark Padilla that investigates the social context of HIV and drug use in the tourism zones of the Dominican Republic (DR). The study is funded by the DNational Institute on Drug Abuse (Grant # 1 R01 DA031581-01A1. PI: Mark Padilla).

The project is a major collaboration between Florida International University and the largest University in the Dominican Republic - the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, UASD.


The project will contribute to public health knowledge in 3 key areas:

(1) Identification of the factors in tourism areas that contribute to HIV risk and drug use and the development of evidence based interventions.

(2) Analyzing the health effects of tourism environments in high-risk settings for HIV and drug use.

(3) Supporting participatory ethnographic health research, making it highly relevant at the local level and more likely to impact health programs and policies.

Through its ethnographic, syndemic approach, our project makes advances in the following ways:

● We are committed to reducing the dual epidemics of HIV and drugs in the Caribbean, in order to protect the health of both Caribbean populations as well as Americans who are in close contact with the Caribbean.

● This project is developing the first national intervention to reduce the impact of both HIV and drug abuse in Dominican tourism zones and it we hope it will serve as a working model for the Caribbean region.

● The project will afford better understanding of epidemiological linkages of HIV to South Florida and other US destinations for Dominican migration (such as New York). The work will directly contribute to prevention programs addressing HIV/AIDS and drug abuse across the region.

● The study will provide research that can help strengthen HIV and drug abuse prevention and treatment programs.

● Florida, where the research is based (at Florida International University in Miami), has significant economic, criminal justice, and safety concerns related to the HIV epidemic and the drug economy in the Caribbean, due in part to Florida’s large immigrant populations and frequent travel to and from the Caribbean.

● Florida has strong cultural, economic, and migratory ties to the Caribbean and as a result HIV/AIDS and drug use/abuse represent a threat to regional public health.