Perceptions and Knowledge of HIV/AIDS on a College Campus. Semester Blog 2

This year I will take a comprehensive look into the perceptions, assumptions, and knowledge of HIV/AIDS on a college campus. The research will survey college students, primarily at Pace University NYC, to gain a better understanding of their knowledge of HIV & AIDS. Once we have gathered and analyzed the data, we will use this information to create a workshop on HIV/AIDS prevention and education that can be presented to Pace students and staff.

I am interested in this area of research because of my experiences at the Pace LGBTQA and Social Justice Center. I currently work at the Center as a Student Assistant where I am able to meet and interact with many students at Pace. As a result, I have seen a strong disconnect between the students’ perceptions and ideas surrounding HIV/AIDS, and the information that is actually true. Furthermore, as a student I have found that this is not a conversation that is happening on campus, but the need to educate students still exists. Only after I looked into the research myself was I able to see how little I knew about HIV/AIDS and the stigma that surrounds it. Lastly, Pace does not offer “pre-exposure prophylaxis” (PrEP) or “post-exposure prophylaxis” (PEP) at the University Health Center. These are two HIV prevention strategies that can be potentially life-saving to those who are exposed to HIV. It is my hope that the results of this research will demonstrate the need for these medications on campus and push Pace to provide them for students.

While there is a great deal of information on HIV/AIDS in academia, not a lot of research has been done on college campuses specifically, which makes this research that much more important. Overall, rates of HIV infection have declined in recent years, but the rates of invention among young adults has not seen a proportional reduction. A study completed at a Midwestern university in 2009 showed that while 77% of students reported that they were “very familiar with HIV/AIDS” many had clear misconceptions about transmission and prevention, including 14% of the students reporting that HIV can be transmitted via mosquito bite. Moreover, college students are among the highest demographic with a prevalence for risky sexual behavior, but many students do not perceive themselves to be at risk. Concurrently, the 1980s AIDS epidemic in New York provides a great deal of social context for my research. It is unfortunate that much of the negative stigma surrounding the virus still exists today. I expect to see this reflected in our research, but hope to change these feelings through the final workshop. It is clear that more research needs to be done in regards to this population in order to appropriately educate students. Since there have not been many studies completed with a focus on college students, my research will aid in closing this gap.

The first step in the research is to develop a comprehensive questionnaire. These questions will help to see how much students know (or think they know) about HIV/AIDS. Additionally, the survey will ask questions about perceptions of contracting and transmitting the virus. Once enough data has been obtained, I will be able to better understand the areas that need to be addressed. From this I will work to develop a presentation that will educate students on the truth, and resolve many of their misconceptions. The workshop will be presented to a group of students and they will be surveyed before and after to test for effectiveness. I hope the research and workshop will help in changing students’ perceptions and allowing Pace to better serve it’s community.

Navarro/Coppola Blog 1

The purpose of this research project for the 2017-2018 academic year is to study, analyze, and, explore how technology and older adults (ages 60+) interact. As of now, the focus is primarily relating to how technology can be utilized by older adults in regards to their overall health and well being. This includes using digital monitoring devices to obtain information such as oxygen levels, blood pressure, and heart rate. Once these vitals are taken, they can be digitally sent and stored in an online portal that can be accessed by the patient, or primary care physician, at a later time. An understanding of these vitals is important in providing proactive treatment of serious issues that can arise including strokes and heart attacks. Previous research has shown that older adults are willing and eager to utilize technology, and this project will further explore the benefits of interconnecting this population with today’s technological advancements. The working title for this project is “Digital Health Education for Seniors.”

From this project, a better understanding of exactly how digital health education can be beneficial to this population will be obtained. This research will allow us to learn more about the ever-growing relationship between senior citizens and technology. Are they willing to accept and utilize this technology for a specific purpose? How quickly can they adapt to new software/hardware? In what ways do they learn best? How can an overall understanding of their health lead to a better of quality of life? All of these questions will be addressed and investigated during the course of the project.

A number of different methods will be used in order to accomplish this project. Most notably, partnership with Senior centers (tentatively Carter Burden Network and Brookdale) will be used in order to access the target population. Additionally, the research team with partner with Vital Care Services, an organization that specializes in digital health management and collaboration. A comprehensive test will be given at the beginning and end of the research so that the success rate can be examined. The research will consist of frequent and consistent monitoring of older adults and their relationship with new technology, ideas, and practices. At the end of the project, a better understanding of this population and their needs will be found.

Blog 2

Over the course of the past couple of weeks, collaboration has continued with a number of different senior citizens. In each of the sessions students sit down with at least one senior (sometimes in a small group) and guide them through different aspects of technology. Based on the research so far, four “critical areas” have been established and will serve as the foundation for the technology program that is being developed. These findings are based upon personal surveys and interactions, previous research, and social needs. The four critical areas are: Mobile Banking, Tele-Health Services, Digital Communication, and Basic Computer Literacy. “Mobile Banking” includes viewing online bank accounts, paying bills online, and using ATMs. “Tele-Health Services” encompasses online patient registration portals, at-home medical tests, and virtual doctor visits. “Digital Communication” is a combination of traditional social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter) and other online communication tools (Skype, email). Finally, “Basic Computer Literacy” is providing the seniors with the basic skills to interact with their computers on a daily basis. This includes teaching them how to interact with computer hardware, basic keyboard tricks, and how to work their operating system. The research thus far has suggested that if older adults are provided with the skills listed above, then they will be better equipped to interact with current and future technologies. In establishing a better understanding of these topics, older adults will be able to properly interact with today’s society, other adults, and younger generations, thus lessening their feelings of social isolation. It is interesting to note that three of the four critical areas that have been identified were ones that were hypothesized at the beginning of the project. In speaking with the older adults and their families, and aids, these were areas that they hoped to learn more about. Additionally, these are areas that many younger individuals utilize on a daily basis.


The research has raised a number of questions, and provided subsequent challenges in developing a proper technology program at Carter Burden. First and foremost, how can the success of the technology program be accurately measured in a meaningful way? It is hard to quantify the success rate because so much of the work that is being done is subjective to the individual. The understanding of the findings is limited because a proper survey (or tool) that is able to adequately measure the success rate has not yet been established. Furthermore, another challenge/question that has come up is how to teach and interact with older adults with physical/mental handicaps. Many of the challenges that are associated with teaching older adults such as memory loss, and decreased mobility, are magnified with those with a mental/physical disability (dementia, etc.). Research is still being done in understanding how the program will overcome these challenges in helping the adults learn.


One of the main successes and lessons of the research is that the needs and abilities of this community are now better understood, which provides a solid foundation as the research continues. There is an entire community of individuals who were not privy to growing up with today’s technology, but who nonetheless, are wanting to better understand and connect with these devices. Not only are older adults able to learn about technology with the proper teacher and resources, but they are eager to jump into the digital age! It has been very interesting to see how these adults approach new technology and ideas with a sense of ambition and determination. There are so many aspects of the digital age that many take for granted, but it has been wonderful to see these adults grow as they learn more about the technology that surrounds them.


This research and project have greatly impacted me and my future studies in this field. I now have a better understanding of an underrepresented community within our society. It has been a pleasure to meet and interact with so many diverse and welcoming individuals. Furthermore, I have firsthand knowledge of what it takes to teach older adults, and how although it can be a timely process, it is equally if not, more fulfilling and enjoyable.


Blog 1

This summer Dr. Coppola and I are working with the Carter Burden Network (CBN) to study the impact of technology on the quality of life among older adults (individuals above sixty-years-old). In doing so, we will help CBN create a structured technology program that will give older adults the ability to learn more about specific areas of technology. This will include everything from basic computer literacy, to mobile banking and tele-health services. The purpose of this research is to identify the most efficient ways in which older adults can learn and retain information about technology, while also better understanding how these findings can improve and individual’s overall quality of life. Once we have identified the most practical and effective ways teach older adults, we will utilize this information and implement it into the foundation of our technology program.

Through this project we expect to achieve a better understanding of the best practices and procedures for interacting with older adults and technology. We also hope to better understand the technical skills that are most important to older adults. Is it basic computer skills? The ability to fully interact with an online registration portal? Essentially, we want to identify which concepts are most important to teach older adults so that their quality of life is improved. We want to give them the skills and knowledge to be more independent and confident in a society that is heavily focused around technology. Once we have been able to identify these concepts, we will apply this information into the creation of a structured technology program that can be implemented at CDN and other senior living and recreational centers.

To answer our research questions, we will use a number of methods over the course of our project. First, we will research ways in which other senior centers are already teaching about technology. It is important to have an understanding of what others are already doing, and to use this information as a springboard for our research. Additionally, we will hold focus groups with the adults at CDN. These focus groups will provide us with baseline information in regards to the skills and knowledge that the adults already possess about technology. During these focus groups we will also survey the adult’s feelings on their quality of life and use this information to see if our program can help to increase their overall feelings of happiness. Another method that we will use is to test different teaching techniques. For example: do older adults learn best in groups or one-on-one? Is it best to have classes once or twice a week? Are paper instructions more effective than using an iPad? These are all questions that we hope to answer and that will give us the ability to create the best program that we can. We will test different teaching styles and practices to better understand which methods are most applicable to teaching older adults of varying ages, backgrounds, skill levels.

The potential significance of this research could serve as a tool to increase the quality of life for older adults. If we find that the program we will establish can lower an older adult’s feelings of social isolation, we can build upon our research and begin to implement these programs in a number of other senior centers. The long-term implementation could result in higher rates of happiness among future participants.