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Bienestar Coalition

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What is the Bienestar Coalition?

The Bienestar Coalition is a federally funded grant program through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) to address the rising numbers of 18- to 24-year-old Latinos contracting HIV/AIDS in this country as a result of substance use and high-risk sexual behaviors.

Existing research suggests students who engage in binge drinking are more likely to engage in unprotected sex and become victims of sexual assault when they are impaired. Although Texas State currently offers programs and services to combat alcohol abuse and sexual assault on campus, the goal of this project is to create a community partnership program among students, faculty and non-profit agencies in San Marcos to reduce sexual risks associated with binge drinking. The Bienestar Coalition is a unique collaboration of the Communication Studies Department at Texas State University and community partners in the City of San Marcos, Texas.

Over 30% of undergraduate students attending Texas State are Latino, and this program is the first substance abuse prevention program designed specifically for the Latino/a young adult community in San Marcos. Dr. Villagran’s research will play a pivotal role in understanding and addressing the relationship between binge drinking and sexual risks for this important segment of our population.

What does the Bienestar Coalition do?

The Bienestar Coalition offers:

  • information about high risk behaviors via social media sites and educational programming
  • free and confidential HIV testing to students
  • confidential campus and community resource referrals

Why is there a need for the Bienestar Coalition social media sites?

There is a lack of culturally targeted prevention messages and services that educate Latino campus and community members about the dangers of “hooking up” while impaired.

Bienestar Coalition members have identified three areas of concern related to 18- to 24-year-old Latinos:

  1. increased HIV risk when under the influence of alcohol and other drugs
  2. underage use of alcohol and binge drinking
  3. the non-medical use of prescription and illegal drugs

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV relative to other races/ethnicities.
  • The estimated new HIV infection rate among Latinos in 2010 in the United States was more than three times as high as that of whites.
  • Socioeconomic factors such as poverty and language barriers may contribute to Latino HIV infection rates