Gay adolescent males (between 13 and 18) account for almost 80 percent of HIV diagnoses within that age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with a disproportionate number of African Americans and Latinos among those diagnosed. To help those vulnerable populations, which often do not get the sex education they need, the Hunter College Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training (CHEST), led by Distinguished Professor of Psychology Jeffrey T. Parsons, and now in its 20th year, has partnered with Northwestern University’s Sexual Minority Adolescent Risk Taking (SMART) Program to evaluate a package of eHealth interventions.
On August 24, Northwestern announced that Dr. Brian Mustanski, who is leading the study, has been awarded $9.3 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund the innovative study.
“We’re very excited about this project as it’s our first study dedicated to addressing the HIV and sexual health needs of young gay men under the age of 18, a group that is typically left out of HIV behavior research trials,” says Dr. Parsons, who serves as a Co-Investigator on the NIH study and will lead the CHEST team’s effort. Dr. Parsons was the developer of the Young Men’s Health Project (YMHP), one of the three eHealth interventions to be included in the SMART program. Hunter Professor Tyrel Starks is also a Co-Investigator and will supervise Hunter’s Health Psychology and Clinical Sciences doctoral students who will be delivering YMHP to participants via Skype.
Along with faculty at Hunter and Northwestern, the study also involves researchers at the University of Puerto Rico-Medical Sciences Campus, School of Public Health, led by Dr. Carlos E. Rodríguez-Díaz; and North Carolina State University, Department of Statistics, led by Dr. Eric Laber, Assistant Professor.
To mark the 20-year anniversary of CHEST – and to explore crucial future opportunities – CHEST will convene a half-day symposium on HIV Research that Informs Policy: Past, Present, and Future at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College on Tuesday, September 27, 2016. Key figures in New York health policy and in the fight to end the spread of HIV will join in reflection on 20 years of the Center’s work and to dialogue about the future of HIV research, policy and intervention strategies. RSVP here.