Sexual Risk Behavior
CHIP research on sexual risk behavior includes the development and evaluation of interventions for pregnancy prevention, prevention of sexually transmitted infections other than HIV, and HIV prevention interventions. For instance, there is a new grant project that will design an online behavioral health intervention to help reduce the STI/HIV risks associated with Internet-initiated sexual liaisons among men who have sex with men (MSM). This work is particularly significant as Internet-based venues, such as websites, chat rooms, blogs, and bulletin boards are becoming an increasingly popular means for HIV-positive MSM to meet potential sex partners.
Additionally, CHIP’s recently-hired, renowned health psychologists Rick Gibbons and Meg Gerrard have been conducting The Family and Community Health Study (FACHS), a longitudinal study of psychosocial factors related to the physical and mental health of African American families, for more than 15 years. The largest such study conducted to date in the US, FACHS began with 900 families and has followed them across 6 waves, focusing on the adolescents, who were 10 at Wave 1 (26 at W6), and their parents. An ongoing study, FACHS examines the impact of stressors, such as racial discrimination, environmental risk, and (low) socioeconomic status (SES), as well as buffers, such as racial socialization and racial identity, on outcomes including substance use, obesity, and disease. An offshoot of the research team’s work in this area includes using experimental (lab) methods to examine the effects of discrimination and social exclusion on the willingness of young Black and White adults to engage in risky sex and drug use.
Other projects in this area include meta-analyses of existing safer sex interventions and family planning campaigns, and use of virtual reality (VR) technology to measure study participants’ rapid, emotion-based reactions to condoms.