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History:

The Central Virginia HIV CARE Consortium, a sub-division of Virginia Commonwealth University's Survey and Evaluation Research Laboratory (SERL), was organized in 1990 in response to the increasing incidences of HIV and AIDS nationwide.

The Survey and Evaluation Research Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University is the applied research arm of the university’s Center for Public Policy.  SERL was founded in 1982 in the College of Humanities and Sciences. The mission of SERL is to examine public issues and social problems through applied research techniques so as to broaden and improve public discourse and decision making.  SERL serves the research needs of state, local, and federal government, university departments, faculty and students, organizations in the non-profit and private sectors, and the mass media.  Annually SERL serves the university, the community, local and state government through approximately 100 projects, employing a variety of methodologies, including mail and telephone surveys, process and outcome evaluation, focus groups, household interviews, utilization and management of large data sets, and econometric analysis.  Through a diverse range of research activities including polls, specialized survey research projects, evaluation studies, support of university initiatives, and community-based capacity development programs, SERL advances VCU’s mission as the urban university of Richmond and Central Virginia.

SERL is experienced in large-scale data collection projects. SERL conducted Richmond City’s 1996 and 1999 Triennial School Censuses, as well as Chesterfield County’s 1999 Triennial School Census, and our staff have extensive experience in conducting door-to-door surveys, large mail surveys, telephone surveys, and other large scale data collection/data management projects.

SERL typically employs a total of 115 staff on-site: 15 faculty research associates; 20 classified staff; 35 hourly and 45 student research assistants; interviewers; data entry personnel; and clerical assistants. One of the primary strengths of SERL is the accessibility of the university's diverse faculty for consultation and the student population for employment as interviewers and research assistants.  SERL also operates an off-site program at the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), where 36 additional SERL employees have their offices or work sites. VDH-based programs (such as the Virginia Cancer Registry) are focused on public health database management and field-based training for public health providers and staff.

SERL includes four production units to support the collection, management, and analysis of survey data sets – Telephone Surveys (CATI), Mail Surveys, Data Entry, In-Field Data Collection, and Long-term Data Management.  SERL also includes two work groups for programming and project management. Technical staff work in conjunction with project directors and managers to provide management and quality assurance for studies as they progress from design through data collection, data analysis, and into the application of the data for program planning and development.

The main goal of the Consortium is: to maintain an optimal quality of life by providing equal access and opportunities for services that allow individuals infected and affected by HIV and AIDS in the Central Virginia Region to live independently.

Funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) via the Virginia Department of Health supports a menu of various services. Since then, funding has increased greatly due to the reported increase of individuals presenting for services at the many service providers funded by the Consortium. Funding is awarded through a Request for Proposal Process initiated by the Administrative Agency, Virginia Commonwealth University.

 

For more information and referral to services, or to become a Consortium member, please contact Ms. Adrienne Howard, Communications Coordinator at (866) 838-4133 or (804) 828-1827.