man smiles as he stands beneath sign that designates office location for research hub

A New Hub at the Intersection of ‘Multiple Vulnerabilities’  

UCLA Luskin’s newest research initiative is deeply rooted in the community, with the aim of improving the well-being of its most vulnerable members. 

Launched in late 2019, the Hub for Health Intervention, Policy and Practice (HHIPP) connects scholars, policymakers and advocates for those battling poverty, racism, homophobia and discrimination of all kinds.

“We really see HHIPP as in service to Los Angeles’ diverse communities, especially those at the intersection of multiple vulnerabilities,” said Social Welfare Professor Ian Holloway, director of the initiative.

In his long career in research, Holloway has focused on health policy through a social justice lens, working closely with Social Welfare faculty colleague Ayako Miyashita Ochoa.

“When we looked across all of our projects, one of the unifying themes was that we always started with our community partnerships,” Holloway said. “We centered the needs and priorities of the communities that we’re engaged with: lots of diverse LGBTQ+ communities, BIPOC communities, communities of people who use different substances or who are street-connected.”

This has led to innovative and collaborative projects including one using machine learning algorithms to provide personalized information about HIV prevention to gay and bisexual young men. A team led by Miyashita Ochoa is working with people involved in L.A. County’s sex trade to measure the impact of a new state law that prohibits law enforcement from using condoms as evidence of sex work.

HHIPP is also tracking the trajectory of cannabis use among LGBTQ young people in the state. This includes efforts to understand high rates of tobacco use among gender-non-conforming youth, including the role of targeted marketing campaigns.

“And so the idea for HHIPP was really to unify all of these streams of research under one hub,” Holloway said.

HHIPP is committed to making its research widely accessible to the public. To share early findings from the hub’s tobacco-related research, Holloway hosted a webinar tied to LGBTQ Health Week and Transgender Day of Visibility.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when the School’s signature Luskin Summit went virtual, HHIPP used the platform to share information on the coronavirus’ impact on the opioid crisis and the role of telemedicine in protecting sexual health.

Even though the pandemic lockdown struck HHIPP just as it was getting off the ground, Holloway noted that the COVID era also brought new opportunities, including development of a proposal to create community-based tools for vaccine promotion and delivery.

“We certainly have seized the moment in terms of trying to understand the impact of COVID on the communities that we’re serving,” he said.

HHIPP’s work has been funded by a variety of organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, the California HIV/AIDS Research Program and the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. The initiative established a cross-cutting advisory board and continues to launch partnerships with community groups across Southern California.

Looking down the road, Holloway envisions a brick-and-mortar field site where HHIPP can truly serve the community. Local residents could come to the site for social services or health and mental health support. Scholars could co-create research alongside community members, and Social Welfare, Urban Planning and Public Policy students could develop their skills in real time and alongside policymakers.

“Bridging worlds together and locating power in community would be very aligned with our ethos at HHIPP,” Holloway said. “I think that that is one strategy that moves us closer to achieving our vision.”

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