Department of Epidemiology
Mission Statement for Baltimore
The Department of Epidemiology improves the public’s health by training epidemiologists and by advancing knowledge concerning the causes and prevention of disease and the promotion of health. The Department supports Baltimore by strengthening the city’s capacity to use the tools of epidemiology to understand patterns of illness and improve health outcomes.
Working with Sex Workers
Professor Susan Sherman has implemented and studied economic empowerment strategies to help vulnerable women leave commercial sex work. Her projects have involved providing direct services on the Block and other key areas of Baltimore.. She is now leading a study that explores the role of police in the HIV risk environment of street-based female and transgendered sex workers in Baltimore. To this end, an extensive organizational ethnography is being conducted with police including ride alongs, walk alongs, in-depth interviews, and key- informant interview with police leadership and other relevant others to gain a deeper understanding of police practices, attitudes, and culture. Additionally, 250 street-based sex workers will be followed over one year to understand the nature and frequency of interactions with the police and how this is correlated to their HIV risk.
Improving Hearing Among Older Adults in Baltimore
Assistant Professor Frank Lin is leading a pilot study to provide hearing assistance to at-risk older adults in Baltimore communities. The intervention will be delivered in a community setting and will involve the provision of hearing screening, an affordable, accessible amplification device and training on communication strategies and expectation management. Adults who are 60 years or older, have hearing loss and not currently using a hearing aid may be eligible to participate.
Improving Health Outcomes Among People who Inject Drugs (PWID)
Baltimore has the highest per capita prevalence of injection drug use in the US. Professors Shruti Mehta and Greg Kirk lead the ALIVE (AIDS Linked to the IntraVenous Experience) Study, the longest running cohort of PWID in the world. ALIVE has provided critical insight into the epidemiology, natural and treated histories of HIV and HCV among PWID. More recently, interventions nested within this study have used combinations of interventions to improve optimal engagement in care for HIV and HCV. Moreover, through interactions with the ALIVE community advisory board we are working to provide opportunities for ALIVE participants to take their experiences from the study back to their communities. Participants from ALIVE are now being trained to deliver Naloxone in order to prevent mortality from overdose. This past year, 12 ALIVE participants also underwent formal training in communication, advocacy and leadership so that they can become voices for education and change within their communities.
Epidemiology Baltimore Project
Supporting the Baltimore City Health Department
For nearly 10 years, the Department has provided significant support to allow the Health Department to hire a chief epidemiologist to oversee key data activities. Projects that resulted from this unique partnership include reports on life expectancy and other health metrics in Baltimore Neighborhoods, Healthy Baltimore 2015, and community health surveys. The current chief epidemiologist is Assistant Scientist Darcy Phelan-Emrick. Further the Department helped to develop and evaluate the city’s first overdose prevention and naloxone distribution program, and has advised and collaborated closely with the Baltimore Needle Exchange over the past 13 years.