Okafor N. Chukwuemeka began working with the Southern HIV and Alcohol Research Consortium in 2012. With a Bachelor degree in Biochemistry from the University of Lagos, a South Nigeria University also known as Unilag, and a Master’s degree in Health Behavior from the University of North Florida in 2012. Okafor has since moved to Gainesville, Florida and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Epidemiology as a graduate fellow through the College of Public Health and Health Professions at the University of Florida. Today, Okafor focuses on cognitive and inflammatory impacts of substance use, including cannabis use in individuals infected with HIV. Over the course of the summer of 2012 he helped recruit participants into the ongoing SHARC pilot of the Florida Cohort study.
The goal of the Florida Cohort study is to gather data from PLHIV throughout Florida and combine it with the data from the Florida Department of Health to create a comprehensive assessment of unmet needs and areas around Florida of particular need. The Florida Cohort will manage this by enrolling persons with HIV from across the state of Florida from a variety of health care settings. The Florida Cohort has an emphasis on how alcohol and mental health issues can affect HIV outcomes.
In addition to his work with SHARC’s Florida Cohort, through his affiliations with SHARC, Okafor has worked on two poster presentations. The first assessed rates of factors associated with uptake of HPV vaccine in college women. The conclusion of those results revealed low uptake of the HPV vaccine in college women, with racial differences in uptake. The second will be presented at the SHARC Scientific Advisory Board Meeting and Research Conference which will take place January 39-30, 2014 at Florida International University in Miami, Florida.
Working with Natalie Kelso M.P.H. and Robert Cook M.D., M.P.H., Okafor is also currently involved in the “WHAT-IF?” project [Will Having Alcohol Treatment Improve my Functioning?].
“WHAT-IF?” aims to determine whether an alcohol treatment intervention involving naltrexone may reduce hazardous drinking in HIV-infected women. The project also addresses weather alcohol treatment intervention may reduce risky sexual behavior while improving antiretroviral medication adherence.
While the project is currently in its clinical trial period, Okafor’s duties involve the validation of laboratory and data entries as well as helping to monitor medication adverse events in the participants of the “WHAT-IF?” project. Okafor has a high affinity for music as his eclectic variety of genre interests include: rock, alternative, smooth rhythm and blues, and hip-hop. Among these genre’s the artists he enjoys the most are Linkin Park, Janis Joplin, Matchbox Twenty, Jay-Z, Sade, and Tracy Chapman.
Okafor, on behalf of your SHARC family, we would like to thank you for all of your meritorious research efforts and contributions including your substantial collaboration in SHARC and “WHAT-IF?”!