Loretta Sweet Jemmott, PhD, FAAN, RN
Dr. Jemmott is one of the nation’s foremost researchers in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention among African American adolescents, having been involved with $74 million in federal funding devoted to this issue during the course of her career. Several of her curricula have been designated for national use by the Centers for Disease Control. Her reputation has achieved international proportions, having recently been invited to South Africa to help impact HIV/AIDS in Africa.
I have observed how the HIV/AIDS epidemic has disproportionately impacted the African American community, becoming convinced the incidence could be reduced if people changed their sexual behaviors. Our research has demonstrated remarkable success reducing HIV risk associated sexual behaviors among African American adolescents and adults, specifically reducing the clinical incidence of STDs among African American women. Continued research will reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Jemmott has taught undergraduate and graduate courses particularly in the area of AIDS NURS 360 “AIDS Case Study” and human sexuality NURS 503 “Contemporary Issues in Human Sexuality.” In Spring, 2001 Dr. Jemmott, along with a masters prepared nurse practitioner, designed and taught NUR 098 “Sexual Health Promotion and Risk Reduction in West Philadelphia: A Seminar on Urban Campus/Community Norms,” funded by the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Community Partnership. Dr. Jemmott is very committed to the area of health promotion and disease prevention. One of her goals is to prepare nurses and colleagues from various disciplines to become excellent research scientists in this area. Therefore, Dr. Jemmott intends to launch a new course on health promotion and disease prevention with a focus on minority health and health disparities with her colleague, Dr. Susan Gennaro. Deeply committed to mentoring minority faculty and students Dr. Jemmott launched the Hampton-Penn Project, a mentoring and research training collaboration with Hampton University School of Nursing (a historically black university).
Dr. Jemmott has been involved in extensive outcome-based, theory driven, and culturally competent National Institutes of Health-funded research designing and evaluating interventions to reduce HIV risk-associated sexual behaviors. Dr. Jemmott and her colleagues have conducted a series of randomized controlled behavioral intervention trials aimed at increasing safer sex behaviors among inner-city minority youth, women, and family members. These trials have demonstrated remarkable success reducing HIV risk associated behaviors among adolescents and women. The success of her theory-based research expands beyond HIV prevention broadening the research paradigm for health outcomes research including strategies to reduce other behavior-linked health problems, e.g. cancer (smoking), heart disease (nutrition and exercise). To date, three of her evidenced-based interventions have been translated into programs used both nationally and internationally by community-based organizations and clinics in high-risk urban areas. Dr. Jemmott’s work is acknowledged by her colleagues as the vanguard in health promotion and disease prevention, particularly in the field of behavioral intervention research. Currently, Dr. Jemmott is Principal Investigator on two new NIMH-funded 5-year randomized controlled studies entitled, “ The Church-Based Parent-Child HIV Prevention Project” and “Reducing HIV Sexual Risk Among Black Substance Abusing Women”. She is also a Co-Investigator on seven other randomized controlled trials, including a NIMH funded HIV risk reduction study for South African youth.
Dr. Jemmott considers community service and research in community settings as her area of practice. An important component of her work is reaching out and building partnerships to improve the quality of life of various racial/ethnic groups and communities. For the past five years, she has been actively involved with various community-based organizations regarding issues in minority health, especially in the area of AIDS, to design, implement and evaluate HIV prevention programs. Such agencies include the Philadelphia Urban League, the Philadelphia Housing Authority, and Black churches across the city. She has also worked with the City of Philadelphia’s Health Department HIV Commission Community Prevention Planning Group to train community leaders to implement theory based, evidenced-based, culturally sensitive HIV prevention projects in communities of color. Noted for her expertise building community-university partnerships, she is invited to travel across the country to train other scientists and leaders in various communities on this topic.