Social Welfare professor Ian Holloway has been awarded two grants to study sexual risk behavior among populations of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in Los Angeles County and the Dominican Republic.
In a $25,000 award from the National Institute of Mental Health and administered through UCLA's Center for HIV Identification, Prevention and Treatment Services, Holloway will lead a team of researchers looking at how mobile apps and social media can be used to deliver HIV prevention and treatment messaging tailored for Black MSM.
Although apps such as Grindr, Jack'd and Scruff have become common ways for young men to meet each other and connect to gay communities, little is known about how these apps may facilitate HIV risk behavior among young Black MSM, or how the networks formed through these apps could help connect Black MSM with HIV prevention services and resources. Holloway's grant seeks to inform the development of technology-based interventions to reduce the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in this population.
"Current HIV-prevention strategies focus on increasing outreach, testing, treatment and retention in HIV care in order to reduce community viral load. It is imperative that we understand the ways in which young men are using technology in order to tailor interventions for delivery online and through mobile technologies," Holloway says. "Our research will help inform network-based interventions that can keep HIV-positive men healthy and hopefully reduce new infections among HIV-negative men."
The second grant from the UCLA Center for AIDS Research/AIDS Institute, totaling $50,000 over two years, focuses on the social and sexual networks of male sex workers in the Dominican Republic. Holloway and his co-researchers hope to learn more about how tourism economies in the Dominican Republic contribute to substance use and HIV risk through changes in the structure and composition of the social and sexual networks of Dominican male sex workers. For this project, Holloway will collaborate with Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, who co-directs the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health at NYU's Silver School of Social Work and has studied the role of alcohol and drug abuse in HIV risk behavior among Dominican youth. In-country collaborators include Rafael García-Alvarez and Antonio de Moya of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo.
Holloway has previously studied the impact of social networks on HIV risk behavior, especially among young sexual minority men.