Using community-academic partnerships to assess HIV risk factors

Alanna

“Building Research Capacity in AIDS Service Organizations to Enhance HIV Prevention Efforts for Young MSM,” was presented at the American Public Health Association’s annual conference in 2013, by SexLab’s Emily Pingel and Jimena Loveluck, CEO of the HIV/AIDS Resource Center (HARC), one of SexLab’s community partners. The project used a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach, enacted through the United for HIV Integration and Policy (UHIP), a community-academic partnership.

CBPR is a research approach that facilitates collaborative, equitable involvement of all partners in all phases of research. It is a different way to think about working with partners, truly engaging them in the research process and and attempting to understand and utilize the outcomes together. It is predicated on seeing the community as a unit of identity, building on strengths and resources that the community possesses, and pledging to long-term commitment among all partners. In the context of UHIP, a CBPR approach meant that research was conducted that was of concern to the community. In addressing structural vulnerability among Black and Latino young men who have sex with men (BLYMSM), UHIP sought to enable the community to use the data to advocate for change.

YMSM in the Detroit Metro Area completed a web survey, which assessed what the top structural factors shaping their HIV risk were. Housing, education, unemployment, HIV/AIDS stigma, homophobia, weak social networks, and economic disadvantage were all found to be significant factors.  The results from the survey informed UHIP’s subsequent action steps, which included increasing services in the area of social support, namely a peer-led Status Sexy program; LGBT trainings for providers; and the development of a HIV/STI testing site locator. The results from the partnership deeply informed major projects that both SexLab and the community partners went on to pursue, and continue to be involved with today.