President's Showcase

Andrés Felipe Gil Arana

Poster Presentation, Ballroom D
Assessment of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), Violence, and Substance Abuse Prevalence Among Honduran University Students
Supervising Professor: Dr. Charles Fleischer
Andrés Gil Arana, originally from Colombia, moved to the United States to pursue higher education in Cell & Molecular Neuroscience. He has engaged in diverse campus communities and multidisciplinary studies on population health. Andrés has contributed to providing free housing for homeless college going youth, presented at undergraduate research symposiums, and explored how different environments influence health. These experiences led him to collaborate with Honduran health professionals to conduct his honors thesis funded by an IDEA grant, where he aims to lower homicide rates through evidence-based programs to prevent early life adversity and guide the country’s leaders. Andrés aims to promote health access through evidence-based health dissemination and community engagement. Upon graduation, Andrés plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Population Health Sciences to guide national guidelines and policies toward enhancing health literacy and accessibility.


Early life experiences can significantly impact a child’s development, affecting their physical, emotional, and cognitive growth. Multiple factors, including unstable housing, malnutrition, lack of healthcare, and poor environmental conditions, predispose children to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). ACEs screening is administered through a statistically-validated ten-item questionnaire about childhood abuse, neglect, and household challenges. The ACEs score helps to relate the severity of ACEs to the different forms of ACEs by categorizing and identifying which type of ACEs someone experienced. One in six adults experience at least one ACE, and this number increases among marginalized populations. Although studies have identified the connection between ACEs and lifelong health outcomes, there is a lack of research exploring ACEs among Low-to-Middle-Income Countries (LMIC), leaving a gap of understanding in this field. ACEs have been linked to a higher risk of engaging in violent behavior and increased substance abuse. ACEs have become a significant public health issue in Honduras, with rates increasing over time due to various factors such as poverty, social inequality, gang violence, drug trafficking, and political instability. Honduras recorded a homicide rate of nearly thirty-six per one hundred thousand, making it one of the most violent countries in the world, and interpersonal violence is one of the leading causes of death in the country. Honduras’ history of violence has perpetuated generational ACEs, leading to risk behaviors that have prolonged adverse health outcomes for decades.

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