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2017 was a big year for the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities

Written by: Gregory Sallabank

The Center for Sexuality and Disparities, directed by University of Michigan School of Nursing Professor Rob Stephenson, has been steadily growing since moving to UMSN in 2015. Although located in the School of Nursing, the center maintains its inter-disciplinary approach to sexual and reproductive health research, with faculty and staff trained in demography, psychology, social work, midwifery, medicine and epidemiology. Last year saw the launch of 6 projects and the recruitment of 8 new staff members. In mid-2017 the center agreed a move to a new location, in the heart of the school of nursing, with space for the expanding staff, a conference space, dedicated telehealth room and training facilities for the center’s many undergraduate, graduate and doctoral trainees.

The center aims to attract and train students from disciplines across the University. One of our primary aims is to train the next generation of researchers in sexual and reproductive health. This is approached through mentorship of hands on practical research experiences.

It is no coincidence that with this mission and our new highly functional space that within one week in November 2017 that three of our student trainees published first authored papers in three different peer-review high-impact journals – the best things come in threes right?

Nursing graduate John Shaver published; Comparing Provider and Client Preferences for HIV Prevention Services in South Africa among Men Who Have Sex with Men in the Journal of the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (JIAPAC).

"This recent publication describes analysis of focus group data from men who have sex with men and HIV service providers in South Africa. This qualitative inquiry regarded experiences and preferences related to HIV-preventive care and may inform future HIV-preventive work in the region."

Ryan Freeland, a graduate trainee studying Health Informatics published; Measurements of Sexuality-Based Stigma among Gay, Bisexual, and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men (GBMSM) in Resource-Poor Settings: A Review in Aids and Behavior.

“This was the first paper I assisted in the entire process from forming the research question to submitting the manuscript. Overall, I am very proud of the team's work on this paper, as we have significantly shed light on the measurement ambiguity among gay and bisexual and other men who have sex with men in resource-poor settings.

Erin Rogers, a graduate trainee studying Epidemiology at the School of Public Health published; Examining Temporal Shifts in the Proximate Determinants of Fertility in Low- and Middle-Income Countries in the Journal of Biosocial Science.

“This research required analyzing over thirty nationally-representative datasets, which is to say a lot of work! I began this analysis during my senior year of undergrad, and now that I am days away from graduating with my Masters of Public Health, publishing this has felt like the perfect send-off.”

For each of these students, the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities has played a significant role in their time at UM by providing a supportive, inclusive environment with mentored research opportunities.

"Working at the Center has afforded me many unique opportunities. In addition to experience in data analysis and presentation, Dr. Stephenson frequently encourages students to engage with research design and implementation, both domestically and abroad."

John Shaver

“I have seen CSHD transition between three different spaces and to the School of Nursing and I am happy to see the DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) team and initiative, as well as additional staff members, expanding this inclusive space for the center and the School of Nursing.”

Ryan Freeland

“Each time that I enter the Center, I am reminded of the wonderful opportunity I have to work with such a driven, passionate, and hardworking group of individuals. I am also grateful that the Center provides such a supportive environment to students, allowing us to explore research interests, gain experience conducting data analysis, as well as writing manuscripts and presenting at conferences.”

Erin Rogers

As we kick off 2018 the center will continue to evolve. Students will graduate and a new cohort will come through. As we grow and adapt into our new space we will continue to train the next generation of sexual and reproductive health researchers.

For links to these journal articles and more publications please visit our 2017 publications page:

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