CREGS Faculty Research Projects

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The Hip-Hop Generation Fights Back
Andreana Clay, PI

Dr. Clay’s research provides a detailed account of the strategies that youth activists use to frame their social justice agendas and organize in their local communities. From youth violence, to the impact of high stakes educational testing, to editorial hand wringing over the moral failures of hip-hop culture, young people of color are often portrayed as gang affiliated, “troubled,” and ultimately, dangerous. The Hip-Hop Generation Fights Back examines how youth activism has emerged to address the persistent inequalities that affect urban youth of color. Based on two years of fieldwork with youth affiliated with two non-profit organizations in Oakland, California, Dr. Clay shows how youth integrate the history of social movement activism of the 1960s, popular culture strategies like hip-hop and spoken word, as well as their experiences in the contemporary urban landscape, to mobilize their peers. This comparison of the two youth organizations and their participants expands our understandings of youth culture, social movements, popular culture, and race and ethnic relations. Additionally, Dr. Clay is exploring the concept of loss in Black Popular Culture. Her conceptualization of loss is similar to social death in that it is liminal — the space in between — that characterizes the Black community in the post-Civil Rights Era. From rappers, to Prince, and underground queer artists, Dr. Clay utilizes content analysis of lyrics to examine how musicians articulate loss as related to crack cocaine, gentrification, gender and queer sexuality.

Gay Couples Study
Colleen Hoff, PI

The Gay Couples Study examines relationship dynamics in same-sex male couples and their association with HIV risk with primary and outside partners. Relationship dynamics include issues such as couple serostatus, agreements about sex, as well as sexual and relational satisfaction. Additional objectives include exploring how, when, and why couples make agreements about sex; what happens when agreements about sex are broken; what other kinds of agreements couples make about sex, and HIV testing for couples. The research is supported by NIMH grants MH R0165141, MH R0175598 (1-5), and MH R01075598 (6-10).

Power and Risk Study (You & Me)
Colleen Hoff, PI

HIV prevention efforts among gay men in the US have broadened in scope to incorporate the social, cultural, interpersonal, and contextual factors associated with HIV infection and transmission. Recent findings from HIV research suggest that the examination of relationship dynamics is needed to help better explain the higher rates of HIV among Black gay men since factors such as the number of sexual partners, specific sexual behaviors, and drug use do not explain their higher rates of HIV infection relative to other gay men of different races and ethnicities. The You & Me study investigates relationship dynamics, such as power, communication, sexual behaviors with primary and outside partners, and their effect on HIV risk. Recognizing the crucial association of power dynamics within relationships with HIV risk among gay couples, this mixed-methods study examines the various dimensions of relationship power and known psychosocial correlates of HIV risk (e.g., relationship satisfaction, agreement investment, social support, and experiences of racism and homophobia) among Black, White, and interracial Black and White couples who are HIV concordant negative or discordant. An important component of this effort involved the development and validation of a comprehensive quantitative scale to measure dimensions of relationship power in gay male couples. Two sites, San Francisco, CA and New York City, NY are being utilized.

HIV Risk Among Trans Partners of MSM
Colleen Hoff, PI

HIV disparities in the U.S. continue to affect the most marginalized groups in this culture. Trans women are 34 times more likely than MSM to contract HIV. Estimated prevalence rates for trans men ranged from 0 to 3%, significantly lower than for trans women, yet considerable unprotected anal and vaginal sex behaviors, sex work and drug use, all known risk factors for HIV, were reported. Prior research among trans women found that rates of unprotected vaginal and anal intercourse were higher with primary partners versus casual or commercial sex partners. This is true for MSM in relationships as well. This study explores relationship factors for trans men and women in a relationship with cis-gendered men to identify unique relationship factors associated with risk. We conducted qualitative interviews with 60 couples comprised of 30 trans women in a primary relationship with a cis-man and 30 trans men in a relationship with a cis-man. Interviews were guided by minority stress theory and focus on the intersection of gender identity, ethnic identity and relationship dynamics associated with sexual risk for these groups.


An HIV Intervention Trial for Gay Male Couples
Colleen Hoff, PI

The majority of prevention interventions targeting MSM are individual-focused. However, over the years, our research has identified unique prevention needs for gay couples that have not been sufficiently addressed in individual-focused interventions. This study tested the efficacy of a 2-session in-person, group-level intervention for gay couples –in reducing the odds of a composite HIV risk variable (CR-HIV) (which includes: PrEP use for HIV-negative partners, viral load for HIV-positive partners, and sexual risk behaviors) by comparing it to a time- and attention-matched in-person control condition. Additionally, we tested efficacy of an online adaptation of the in-person intervention in reducing odds of CR-HIV by comparing it to the same control condition.


Infrastructure for Community-Linked Research to Address Disparities in HIV/AIDS
Alexis Martínez, Co-Investigator

The AARC (Alameda AIDS Research Coalition) is a consortium of health sciences investigators at local universities (academic rese community (CBO researchers), and community members (community researchers) to answer significant scientific STI/HIV research questions. The AARC has been funded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) to develop strong, long-term relationships that bridge the gap between research and communities by developing trainings and forums. Our goal is to help obtain research funding to answer pressing questions in the African American community concerning HIV/AIDS and related health disparities.


Geospatial Research on HIV Treatment in San Francisco
Alexis Martínez, PI

To maximize "HIV treatment as prevention" efforts in San Francisco, this is a three-year study that uses geospatial methods to map and analyze the distribution of HIV treatment outcomes at the neighborhood level. Since the publication of the HPTN 052 clinical trial findings in 2011, global HIV prevention efforts have heralded the use of early antiretroviral therapy (ART) as a key strategy to disrupt transmission events and end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in subsequent generations. A growing body of research is focused on the identification of interventions at the individual level that improve engagement in HIV care and reduce community viral load. However, few studies have investigated the neighborhood as a unit of analysis to determine characteristics and resources that facilitate entry into HIV treatment. Attention to the neighborhoods in which HIV positive individuals live, including availability of health care, housing, and public transportation services, is necessary to maximize the use of HIV treatment as prevention of new infections. Geospatial methods offer an innovative and underutilized approach to studying these issues.


Socio-spatial Examination of Naloxene Availability and Accessibility among Rural Latino Immigrants in California
Martinez/Melendez, Co-PIs

The purpose of this pilot study is to utilize socio-spatial mixed methods to analyze the need, availability, and accessibility of opioid overdose prevention among Latino immigrants in rural California counties. Co-Principal Investigators, Rita Melendez (Professor, Department of Sociology and Sexuality Studies) and Alexis Martinez (Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Sexuality Studies) are specifically interested in examining the perceived availability and accessibility of naloxone among Latino immigrants. Drs. Martinez and Melendez are trained sociologists with a history of conducting intersectional, mixed methods public health research with vulnerable populations in California. With this proposed pilot study, we aim to contribute new knowledge, with innovative socio-spatial methods, to the disciplines of public health, sociology and geography, about the need for overdose prevention among a structurally vulnerable population. Furthermore, our research has the potential to inform policy and programmatic services in geographic areas with limited health resources. Finally, our research responds to a national public health crisis by identifying overdose prevention needs among an underserved population as well as offers our sociological lens to consider the impact of social and economic vulnerabilities of those living in places with limited resources.

PIMSA: Web-based medical services for HIV positive Latino Immigrants
Rita Melendez, PI

This study aims to develop and test a web-based tool for HIV-positive Latino immigrants to use for improved medical care. Initial testing with focus groups found that the website was open, inviting, easy to use and had much information. The focus groups raised a number of concerns regarding how the content was delivered and as a result more videos were added to the website. The evaluation instrument is currently on the website and data are being collected to determine ease of use issues, information quality and use of the website by medical doctors, patients and service providers.

IBIZA Project: Health Access Assessment of Zacatecan Immigrants
Rita Melendez, PI

The study investigates health needs and access to care issues for immigrants from Zacatecas Mexico. The survey was distributed to approximately 300 Zacatecan immigrants who were living in the US and who attend meetings at Mexican consulates for Zacatecans who live in the US. The data from the project will illuminate vital health information which will be presented to the Mexican Department of Health in an effort to provide better health services. Additionally, the data will provide information on access to the Affordable Care Act among immigrants to the US.