to meet the continually changing challenges posed by the
epidemic, and advising the staff of APA’s Office on AIDS, which
was established in 1988 to provide leadership and coordination
for APA activities related to HIV/AIDS.
In its early years, COPA focused on increasing education and
awareness about how the disorder is transmitted, and on urging
psychologists to provide their expertise to develop, implement
and evaluate AIDS education and risk-reduction programs.
“There really was a lack of awareness at the time of women
who were getting infected, and [the needs of women with
AIDS], as well as the cultural and racial diversity of populations
affected by HIV and AIDS,” Amaro says.
With support from former COPA staff liaison John
Anderson, PhD, senior director of the Office on AIDS from
1994 until his death in 2012, the committee helped to establish
numerous APA policy positions and statements (see timeline
on previous page) and to develop APA initiatives to meet the
challenges posed by the epidemic.
For example, COPA helped to oversee several federally
funded programs administered through the Office on AIDS,
including the Cyber Mentor Program, which pairs early career
researchers studying HIV among underserved communities
with senior researchers for mentoring. COPA members also
advised APA on its training programs on HIV/AIDS-related
issues. The Behavioral and Social Science Volunteer Program
is a national HIV-prevention technical assistance program
to support evidence-based HIV-prevention practices in
community-based organizations across the country. The HIV
Office for Psychology Education (HOPE) Program uses the
train-the-trainer model to educate psychologists, psychology
students and allied health providers about working with people
living with or affected by HIV and has trained 35,000 mental
health providers to date.
In addition, in 2012, APA and COPA began collaborating
with Black Entertainment Television (BET) and the BET Rap-It-
Up Campaign, dedicated to informing African-Americans about
HIV/AIDS. The partnership sought to develop and implement
evidence-based strategies to facilitate positive communication
on sex, sexual health, dating and HIV/AIDS among African-
American teens and among teens and their families.
COPA members also served as experts on several BET
teen forums around the country addressing HIV/AIDS and
Behavioral health challenges remain
These days, COPA continues to emphasize the importance of
behavioral health in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. For
example, in 2012, in anticipation of the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration’s approval of the antiretroviral drug Truvada for
use in preventing HIV infection, COPA developed a resolution
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