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Research Projects

Current Research Projects

4 Us

This project seeks to evaluate the efficacy of the We Test intervention – which includes two adjunct couples HIV test counseling (CHTC) components: a substance use module and an assertive communication training video. A total of 240 YMSM couples will be enrolled equally across sites in New York City and Detroit.

Analyses evaluate the efficacy of the intervention components to reduce drug use, drug related problems, and HIV transmission risk. Secondary outcomes include syphilis infection, PrEP uptake, and binge drinking as well as qualitative intervention feedback.

Principal Investigator(s): Tyrel Starks (Hunter College) & Rob Stephenson

Co-Investigators:              Erin Kahle

Project Manager:             Jayelin Parker

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Project BMO – Black Male Opinions is a short survey to understand the willingness and preferences of Black men with regards to their sexual reproductive health and healthcare.

You can connect with the study on Facebook or Instagram @project.bmo.

Principal Investigator(s): Jade Burns


Exploring violence and viral suppression among men living with HIV. The proposed 24 month cohort study examines associations between the experience and perpetration of intimate partner violence and bio-markers of engagement in clinical HIV care among a large diverse sample of men living with HIV.

Principal Investigator(s): Rob Stephenson

Co-Investigators:              Erin Kahle & Erin Bonar

Project Manager:              Renée Pitter

Study Team:                      Emily Dove-Medows


Project Caboodle explores the acceptability and feasibility of self-collecting at home and returning by mail all, some, or none of the following five biological specimens: (i) finger-stick blood sample, (ii) pharyngeal swab, (iii) urine specimen, (iv) rectal swab, and (v) hair sample, among 100 high-risk, HIV-negative or unknown status US MSM (18-34 years, 50 black and 50 white) recruited through social networking websites and mobile gay dating apps.

A second phase of in-depth interviews from a sample of participants will collect qualitative data about participant's experiences in the study.

Principal Investigator(s): Akshay Sharma

Co-Investigator:                Rob Stephenson


The Combine study is a collaboration with Emory University that aims to identify methods to increase uptake of HIV/STI testing among MSM in the rural southern US, using focus group discussions and an online, cross-sectional survey to determine sexual health needs and preferences. We will also conduct in-depth interviews with public health officials and leaders of community-based organizations that serve rural MSM populations. The results of this research will be used to inform the development of an app to promote HIV/STI testing and overall health among MSM in the rural southern US.

Principal Investigator(s): Rob Stephenson


This project focuses on conducting a dyadic intervention for 272 sero-discordant and concordant positive heterosexual couples in KwaZulu-Natal. The proposed RCT will test the efficacy of the dyadic intervention for achieving gains in viral suppression and engagement in HIV care. Heterosexual couples represent a significant yet over- looked risk group in South Africa, and innovative solutions are urgently needed to improve progression across the continuum of HIV care. 

Principal Investigator(s): Lynae Darbes & Rob Stephenson

Project Manager:             Jayelin Parker


Through focus groups and interviews (qualitative phase) followed by an online survey (quantitative phase), this study will investigate the unique context of, risks for, and health impact of IPV in transgender populations, as well as validate the first IPV scale for use in transgender populations.

Principal Investigator(s): Sarah Peitzmeier & Rob Stephenson

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The iCON Plus study is a randomized control trial that utilizes a mobile-friendly WebApp intervention focused on life-skills training for adolescent MSM (ages 13-18) in four U.S. regions that are geographically diverse (urban, sub-urban, rural), and heavily impacted by HIV.

Principal Investigator(s): Rob Stephenson 

Study Team:                      Ali Walsh

LGBTQ Pregnancy Loss

LGBTQ people's disclosure and support seeking on social media when experiencing pregnancy loss

Principal Investigator(s): Ashley Lacombe-Duncan & Lee Roosevelt


The Masculinity, Affirmation, and Self-Conceptualization Study (MASCS) aims to understand how trans masculine-spectrum individuals conceptualize their gender expressions and holistic health behaviors. If you are interested in being a part of our project, click the link below

Principal Investigator(s): Sarah Peitzmeier

Project Manager:              Kieran Todd


Testing Strategies for Couple Engagement in Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) and Family Health in Kenya

PMCTC proposes to conduct a three-arm trial among 1080 pregnant women and partners, randomizing them to home-based couple visits, HIV self-test (HIVST) kits to use with their male partner, or standard care (male partner clinic invitation letters), following couples up to 18 months postpartum.

Co-Principal Investigator(s): Lynae Darbes

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Stay Safe

The Stay Safe project is a qualitative study that will explore the barriers and facilitators of sexual health service use among young heterosexual Black men and their access to care in Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) in Detroit.

Principal Investigator(s): Jade Burns

Study Team:                      Renee Pitter


STEPS Project

A community needs assessment for optimizing expedited partner therapy

Principal Investigator(s): Kristi Gamarel

Co Investigator(s):            Okeoma Mmeje & Rob Stephenson


It Takes Two

A couples-based approach to HIV prevention for transgender women and their male partners

Principal Investigator(s): Kristi Gamarel

Co Investigator(s):            Lynae Darbes

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The Together study is the culmination of years of studies that have focused on gay male couples and their health. Participation in the study lasts over 9 months. The study begins with couples testing, followed by a two-day Couples Workshop. After that, there are follow-up appointments at 3, 6, and 9 months to see how the results of the workshop. Total participation lasts about 10 hours over 9 months. 

Co-Principal Investigator(s): Lynae Darbes



Transgender/nonbinary Sexual and Reproductive Health Photovoice

A photo voicestudy for transgender, nonbinary, two-spirit, genderqueer, agender, genderexpansive or another non-cisgender identity, and age 18 or older. Current recruitment in Washtenaw County. Detroit recruitment to begin in fall 2019.

Co-Principal Investigator(s): Shanna Kattari​ & Lee Roosevelt

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We Prevent seeks to develop and pilot a relationship skills session as an addition to the current Couples HIV Testing and Counseling (CHTC) for young, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (YMSM). Both the relationship session and CHTC will be delivered to 15-19 years old YMSM via video-chat, with recruitment occurring in all 50 states. Incorporating relationship skills session into existing CHTC has the potential to empower YMSM with skills needed to efficiently communicate and protect themselves from HIV in their current and future relationships.

Principal Investigator(s): Rob Stephenson & Kristi Gamarel

Project Manager:              Catherine Washington

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