Staff-led pilot projects propel new discoveries at the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities
These projects offer freedom to explore topics that may be overlooked, with the hope that new exploration can lead to expanded research and the development of vital interventions.
Renée Pitter joins the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health Leaders
We are proud to announce that Center Research Program Manager Renée Pitter has been selected to participate in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health leadership fellows program. This three year, leadership skills, networking and personal/professional development program connects changemakers across the country.
Tanaka Chavanduka receives UM Arts Initiative grant to explore the art of queer health sciences
This project connects students at the Stamps School of Art & Design who identify as queer with CSHD research studies to create illustrations in response to scientific visualizations with the aim of reducing sexual health inequities.
Congratulations to Professor Rob Stephenson, named as the Sylvia S. Hacker Collegiate Professor of Nursing and Sexual Health.
We are proud to recognize this appointment for Center Director, Professor Rob Stephenson and to celebrate the continued presence of sexuality at the forefront of nursing and health sciences research.
Most men with HIV know whether they have enough of the virus in their blood to make them contagious,
Most men with HIV know whether they have enough of the virus in their blood to make them contagious, but new findings from Dr. Rob Stephenson et al. suggests 1 in 5 may mistakenly think they can’t spread the virus even when they can.
These findings from the Stronger Together study were recently featured in Reuters and NAM-AIDSMap.
The article, "Accuracy in self-report of viral suppression among HIV-positive men with HIV-negative male partner" will be published soon in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (JAIDS).
Providing expertise to the World Health Organization
Dr. Rob Stephenson and Stephen Sullivan were invited to attend the 3rd World Health Organization (WHO) Technical Consultation on Point of Care Diagnostics Tests (POCTs) for Sexually Transmitted Infections, Verona, Italy December 10-12.
Congratulations to our Janet Gatherer Boyles Small Project Support Fund recipients!
Supporting promising & innovative research in sexual and reproductive health.
We are delighted to announce this year’s Janet Gatherer Boyles Small Project Support Fund for Sexual and Reproductive Health recipients. This opportunity provides funding to Center staff, under the advisement of a Center core faculty member, to conduct a twelve-month pilot project.
The goal of the funds is to allow Center staff to actively participate in gaining skills in grant writing, participate in project development and build their own research portfolio.
Center staff conceptualize their own study with the support of a core faculty member and submit a research funding application.
Two successful applications, Erin Rogers and Tanaka Chavanduka, have been awarded $3,000 each to conduct their research between July 2019 and June 2020.
Erin Rogers, with the support of Dr. Yasamin Kusunoki, received a funding award to study the sexual and reproductive health of women seeking treatment for opioid use disorder, with a specific focus on the influence of their intimate partners.
Tanaka Chavanduka, with the support of Dr. Rob Stephenson, received a funding award to examine the activities young men engage in across digital platforms that influence their sexual health outcomes.
CSHD faculty awarded 2019 IRWG seed grants
Four Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities faculty awarded seed grants for projects on women, gender, and sexuality from the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWG).
A calling in public health and a home in nursing after addiction and loss
Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities Project Manager, Matthew Rosso found his purpose after intense struggles and addiction. Now, he's helping others find their way to a healthy life and brighter future.
Wellness Wednesday: Rising STD Rates, Alcohol Consumption, Time-Restricted Eating
Dr. Rob Stephenson joined a guest panel on NPR station, WOSU radio discussing increasing rates of sexually transmitted diseases in the United States.
Center Director, Rob Stephenson, announced as Chair of Systems, Populations and Leadership Department at the University of Michigan School of Nursing.
The University of Michigan School of Nursing (UMSN) announced Professor Rob Stephenson, MSc, Ph.D., will become chair of its Systems, Populations and Leadership (SPL) department effective July 1, 2018.
Please join us in congratulating Dr. Stephenson as he begins this new position.
Every major national nursing organization signs a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security with a clear message:
Protect the health of children and keep families together.
Janet Gatherer Boyles Small Project Support Fund for Sexual and Reproductive Health Recipients
The Center for Sexuality & Health Disparities (CSHD) is announcing the Janet Gatherer Boyles Small Project Support Fund for Sexual and Reproductive Health. This opportunity provides funding to Center staff, under the advisement of a Center faculty member, to conduct a pilot project.
The goal of the funds is to allow Center staff to actively participate in gaining skills in grant writing, participate in project development and build their own research portfolio.
There are two application submission dates per year. Maximum funding amount for each grant is $3,000 each.
The funds will support any aspect of promising and/or innovative research. Funding can be used for a new stand-alone project or to enhance an existing research project
Matthew Rosso & Dr. Akshay Sharma received a funding award to undertake a pilot study examining the feasibility of HIV testing incorporated into dental services.
Kieran Todd & Dr. Sarah Peitzmeier received a funding award for research of "Masculinity, Gender Affirmation, and Care Seeing in Transmasculine Populations: A Qualitative Study”.
Center Director, Dr. Rob Stephenson speaks to CNN about why fewer young adults are testing for HIV
A new Center for Disease Control study showed an increase in young adults (15-24) who reported they had never been tested for HIV.
Dr. Rob Stephenson provided insight into why fewer young adults are testing for HIV and how we can counter this trend.
2017 was a big year at CSHD
We moved to an awesome new space at University of Michigan School of Nursing with all the extra facilities we need. We launched 6 projects and hired 3 new staff. In late November we were excited to see the 3 students publish these first author papers in one week.
In 2018 we continue to train the next generation of researchers in sexual and reproductive health.
World Health Organization Launch New Sexual Health Framework
Center Director, Dr. Rob Stephenson, with the Working Group for Operationalizing Sexual Health, produced a new Framework on Sexual and Reproductive Health for The World Health Organization (WHO).
This highlights the many areas where people’s sexual health must be safeguarded throughout the course of their lives.
The Center's Stephen Sullivan assisted with graphic design and Erin Riley with review of this unprecedented framework.
To accompany the launch of the new Sexual Health Framework, Dr. Stephenson led the writing of this article for The Lancet outlining the need for and use of the framework in new program designs and to improve existing research programs.
Our research in the news: Condom Use Related to Perception of Local HIV Prevalence
A publication led by Project Nexus' Project Director Stephen Sullivan was explored in a write up by HIV Equal. This focuses on aligning how people perceive HIV in their local environment with reality and the potential to help improve how individuals perceive themselves at risk thereby allowing them to make informed decisions regarding prevention and testing in their everyday lives.
Introducing Project SWERVE, a New Study Targeting Substance Use and Engagement in HIV Care among Sexual & Gender Minority Youth in Southeast Michigan
April 10, 2017
The Center for Sexuality & Health Disparities, based in the School of Nursing at the University of Michigan, in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, has just launched a new project - Project SWERVE – to tackle substance use and HIV among young people in Southeast Michigan. Project Swerve examines how a brief counseling intervention can impact engagement in HIV prevention and care services and reduce substance use among sexual and gender minority youth (SGMY). Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, SWERVE integrates substance use counseling into standard HIV testing and counseling sessions for SGMY currently using alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drugs in the Southeast Michigan Area.
SWERVE was developed in response to the unique needs of SGMY in Southeast Michigan. Prior research at The Center has documented low rates of HIV testing, as well as high rates of HIV infection among SGMY in the area. Other research has identified difficulties linking HIV+ (positive) SGMY to treatment, as well as retaining HIV+ SGMY in regular HIV care. Given that substance use is a known risk factor for these issues – HIV infection, delay in HIV testing, and poor engagement in HIV treatment and care – and given that SGMY in Southeast Michigan have higher than average rates of substance use, SWERVE offers a unique and promising solution.
“This is a resilient population of young people,” says Dr. Rob Stephenson, Professor of Nursing at the University of Michigan and one of the principal investigators of Project SWERVE. “SGMY have already had to confront a lot of obstacles in their lives. SWERVE will tap into that strength to help them make the best decisions for their situation and their health.”
Dr. Jose Bauermeister, Presidential Associate Professor of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania and the other principal investigator of Project SWERVE, adds, “SWERVE is founded on principles of Motivational Interviewing, which has a strong evidence base of proven effectiveness for positive change. That, coupled with the ease with which SWERVE can be incorporated into standard HIV testing and counseling, makes it a potentially very impactful, and no-doubt cost-effective intervention.”
After 18 months of multi-site collaboration, counselor training, and web development, SWERVE officially launched in early April 2017. The project is seeking to recruit 600 SGMY across Southeast Michigan to test the extent to which this brief counseling intervention increases repeat HIV testing, reduces substance use, and links HIV+ individuals to, and retains them in, HIV-treatment and care. If effective, the intervention will be offered to be implemented at AIDS service organizations and other agencies as an efficient, cost-effective tool for facilitating engagement in HIV prevention and treatment among SGMY nationwide.
Research reported in this press release was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, of the National Institutes of Health, under award number: R01DA041032.
The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
Center Director, Dr. Rob Stephenson joins signatories worldwide to protect sexual and reproductive rights.
A statement on the promotion, protection and fulfilment of sexual and reproductive health and rights by the HRP Scientific Technical and Advisory Group and the Gender and rights Advisory Panel of the World Health Organization (WHO) has been signed by researchers and advocates from around the world including center Director, Dr. Rob Stephenson.
"Now, more than ever, it is critical to ensure access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and information and to guarantee that scientific evidence is developed, shared and used by decision-makers to ensure the promotion and protection of sexual reproductive health of all individuals everywhere, so that no one is left behind."
Hope for an AIDS-Free Generation on World AIDS Day
The Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities is at the heart of U-M research efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS, encourage testing, and support people living with the disease. Based at the U-M School of Nursing, the center is home to the collective efforts of more than 30 researchers including faculty, staff and doctoral students from nursing, public health, medicine and other disciplines. The talented team is working on more than 40 innovative projects in 12 countries from the United States to Kenya.
Our interdisciplinary team of U-M researchers are developing new strategies to reduce HIV, assist people with HIV & fight the effect that stigma has on the health of sexual and gender minority groups.
Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities Research in the News
Why male couples should think about HIV in their relationships
Dr. Rob Stephenson discusses couples, communication and talking about HIV.
Internalized Homophobia Linked to Domestic
NBC Out cover a new research study of more than 1,000 gay and bisexual men.
Web App Prompts Sexual Health Testing for Young Gay, Bisexual, and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men
October 25 2016
The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and University of Michigan School of Nursing Will Co-lead NIH Project as Part of New Adolescent Trials Network for HIV/AIDS
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding a project to investigate a personalized web app that is designed to encourage young men at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), to get routine testing. The funding for “Get Connected” is supported by the new NIH Adolescent Trials Network. As part of the UNC/Emory Center for Innovative Technology (iTech), the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) and the University of Michigan School of Nursing are leading the large scale implementation of the project to encourage young men who have sex with men to get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.
José A. Bauermeister, PhD, MPH, Presidential Associate Professor of Nursing, and Director of the Program in Sexuality, Technology and Action Research (PSTAR) at Penn Nursing, developed the web app. “This web app is distinct from existing online HIV/STI testing center locators in that our web-app provides young men with strategies to overcome barriers that keep them from getting tested. Using tailoring technology, we can customize the content based on users' risk profile, their values and needs, and other characteristics unique to each individual,” said Bauermeister, co-principal investigator for the project.
Over the next four years, the trial will enroll more than 400 young men between the ages of 15 and 24 who live in Philadelphia, Atlanta and Houston. This initiative is part of a coordinated effort to encourage HIV testing and linkage to care among young people under the age of thirty, the age group that accounts for over forty percent of new HIV infections in the United States. Young men who have sex with men, particularly racial/ethnic minority men between the ages of 15 and 24, account for the greatest proportion of new infections in this age group. This age group is also more likely than adults to own a smartphone and use this device to download apps and access health information.
"With high levels of technology use among young people, particularly smart phones and social media, online interventions offer an acceptable and efficient way to reach this highly vulnerable population,” said Rob Stephenson, PhD, MSC, Director of the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities at the University of Michigan School of Nursing, and co-principal investigator in the Get Connected project. “Continuing to examine the public health potential of our web app remains a priority for us."
This project also involves co-investigators from the University of North Carolina, Emory University, and the University of Minnesota. The award for iTech is one of three U19 applications funded by the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to support the new Adolescent Medicine Trials Network (ATN). Research reported in this news release was supported by award number 1U19HD089881-01
The Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities partners with UMHS Adolescent Health
October 4 2016
UMHS Adolescent Health Initiative expands to 40 states.
To evaluate the impact of AHI’s programs and services, AHI will collaborate with the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities, under the direction of Rob Stephenson, PhD. AHI’s Teen Advisory Council and the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities’ Youth Advisory Board will collaborate on the project.
National Institutes of Health Awards $9 Million Grant for
Study on Health Disparities in HIV Prevention
August 9 2016
Penn Nursing, University of Michigan School of Nursing & Emory’s School of Public Health Unite for National Study on HIV Prevention Intervention for Adolescent Men
A research team from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing), the University of Michigan School of Nursing and Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health has been awarded a $9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to adapt and test a HIV prevention intervention for adolescent men who have sex with men. The intervention, referred to as iCON (“I Connect”), builds on an Herb Ritts Foundation initiative and seeks to address the growing disparity in new HIV cases among young men by offering life skills training and community-based HIV prevention resources through an online app.
“Our aim is to empower young gay and bisexual men to find the services they need and enable them to make positive changes in their lives,” said lead researcher José Bauermeister, PhD, MPH, Presidential Associate Professor of Nursing in the Department of Family and Community Health at Penn Nursing. “By empowering change we hope to allow young men to be able to reduce their vulnerability to HIV and to seek the care they need.”
From 2000-2010, the annual number of new HIV diagnoses among young men who have sex with men more than doubled, with racial and ethnic minorities encumbering a disproportionate number of these new infections. Given the rapid growth in HIV infection rates among young men, particularly among racial/ethnic minorities and youth living in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, interventions that provide opportunities to adopt risk reduction behaviors may reduce these young men’s long-term vulnerability and exposure to HIV infection.
"At a time in the United States when new HIV diagnoses are declining among most groups, new infections in young gay and bisexual men continue to rise,” said study co-lead Patrick Sullivan, PhD, DVM, Professor of Epidemiology at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health. “It is critical that we develop new and scalable interventions for these young men."
As part of the sponsored award from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), the research team will test iCON’s efficacy in a sample of 600 gay and bisexual adolescent men living in four regions across the United States. Participants will be able to learn from 16 life skills modules including: education, employment, legal advice, coming out, and safer sex education. Each topic will allow the user to read information, find local services and set goals to make changes in their life, and receive coaching from a peer educator. If effective, iCON will be expanded to other regions of the country.
“With high levels of technology use among young people, particularly smart phones and social media, online interventions offer an acceptable and efficient way to reach this highly vulnerable population,” said study co-lead Rob Stephenson, PhD, MSC, Director of the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities at the University of Michigan School of Nursing.
The research team hopes that this investigation will lead to significant new understandings about how to reduce HIV among youth in the United States.
Research reported in this news release was supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health under award number U01MD011274.
iCON to be Adapted for Sexual Assault Prevention on Campus
May 26 2016
Dr. Michelle Munro-Kramer is beginning a new research project focused on decreasing sexual assault on campus and providing resources for victims. She believes it is important to recognize how college students learning how to function as independent young adults could benefit from a life skills approach aimed at changing social factors that perpetuate sexual violence. Dr. Munro-Kramer will adapt iCON, a U-M created health services and life skills app for sexual and gender minority youth, to address the underlying factors associated with sexual violence within the university environment.
To support this research, Dr. Munro-Kramer received a Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR) K Mentored Clinical Scientist Career Development Award.
iCON is an innovative online resource aimed at linking sexual and gender minority youth to services in southeast Michigan. Funded by a grant from the Herb Ritts Foundation, the new app – called iCON – provides a database of information on health and social services that are available to youth throughout the region.
The idea behind iCON is simple: many sexual and gender minority youth either don’t know what services are available to them, or worry about experiencing stigma and discrimination if they attempt to use services. iCON solves this problem by 1) providing a database of LGBT-welcoming services that can be searched and tailored to a user’s individual needs, and 2) offering life-skill-building educational modules.
The Herb Ritts Foundation supports HIV/AIDS research and organizations that provide assistance and care for individuals with HIV and AIDS. It is equally important to the foundation to advocate for continued awareness of AIDS and its devastating impact on all continents, with an emphasis on finding a cure.
Project Nexus Launches
April 28 2016
Presenting Project Nexus, a New Study Providing At-Home HIV Testing and Remote Video-based Counseling to Male Couples Nationwide
The Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities at the University of Michigan, has launched Project Nexus - a national online trial that seeks to understand how telemedicine could improve HIV testing and reduce risk among gay and bisexual male couples. Funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the project will send at-home HIV test kits to male couples across the United States and then remotely counsel them in their own home using a HIPAA compliant video call service.
Nexus was born out of a pressing need to increase testing and communication about HIV risk among male couples. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) are the only group in the United States to be experiencing an increase of HIV infections. However, recent studies show that one- to two-thirds of new infections among GBMSM come from main partners. Additionally, recent research has found that gay men in relationships perceive themselves to be at less risk of HIV and test less frequently for HIV than single men, despite frequent non-use of condoms with their main partners. To address these disparities, Dr. Rob Stephenson and his team created Project Nexus.
“There are a lot of issues to manage in a relationship. Who does the laundry? Who does the cooking? Who are we supporting to win RuPaul’s Drag Race? But there is one issue that can often be harder to manage — how do we, as a couple, deal with HIV?” says Rob Stephenson, PhD, Professor of Health Behavior and Biological Sciences at U-M School of Nursing and the principal investigator for Project Nexus, “This is the first study of its kind to use a video technology and at-home HIV testing to help male couples get on the same page about their HIV status and their risk all while sitting in the comfort of their own home.”
After a year of website development and counselor training, Nexus was officially launched in April 2016 It aims to recruit 350 male couples across the United States to try out the program – 175 couples of unknown or self-reported negative HIV status and 175 sero-discordant couples where one partner is already living with HIV and the other partner is not.
“Sero-discordant couples often have different needs when it comes to managing HIV in their relationships,” explains Dr. Stephenson, “Because of this we need to understand whether or not Nexus works differently among sero-discordant couples than among couples who are both HIV negative or of unknown HIV status.”
If found to be effective, the program will be offered to be implemented at other HIV/AIDS service organizations and health departments across the country, with the goal of improving HIV testing and communication among gay and bisexual male couples nationwide.
In February 2016 Dr. Rivet Amico spoke at the UAB National Conference on Therapeutic Adherence. You can listen and watch the slides here...
Amico, KR. Conceptual models and behavioral frameworks in adherence: Needs assessment, interventions and quality improvement. Therapeutic Adherence Conference: Understanding and improving treatment adherence: an interdisciplinary approach. February 26th 2016. University of Alabama Birmingham, Alabama.