ISGMH: Expanding the Scope of SGM Research

The Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH) is committed to researching and understanding more about sexual and gender minority (SGM) individuals, especially those who are underrepresented in research. While ISGMH has long been—and continues to be—a leader in HIV research among men who have sex with men (MSM), the Institute’s research now encompasses other SGM groups and health and wellness concerns.

FAB400: Examining relationship health and risks for people assigned female at birth

FAB400 is a study of individuals assigned female at birth (FAB), which includes cisgender women, transgender men, and genderqueer or gender non-binary individuals, and their romantic relationships. Investigators will follow study participants over time, in their current relationships or as they form new ones. The goal is to learn more about risk and protective factors for intimate partner violence (IPV), as well as those that exacerbate or mitigate the negative health consequences of IPV.

YRBS R01: Studying alcohol use disparities in SGM youth nationwide

This study utilizes data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) to assess alcohol use disparities among SGM adolescents across jurisdictions and time points. Among other aims, researchers seek to identify structural factors, such as laws and access to resources, that may influence alcohol use.

ASAP: Investigating ethical inclusion of SGM adolescents in research

The Adolescent Scientific Access Project (ASAP) is using focus groups and surveys with teens and parents to study the barriers to participation in HIV and sexual health research for SGM adolescents. Investigators are interested in various SGM populations and recently reported on the sexual health needs of bisexual female youth.

Beyond HIV: Other diseases that affect MSM

Viral meningitis.  Recent outbreaks in Chicago have been particularly dangerous and have led to a vaccine awareness campaign from the health department. Investigators of the Increasing Awareness and Acceptability of Meningitis Vaccination study are conducting focus groups about viral meningitis knowledge, vaccine awareness, and barriers to vaccination. The plan is to develop an intervention to increase vaccination rates among vulnerable groups of MSM in Chicago.

Human papillomavirus (HPV). The Txt2Protect study aims to increase vaccinations for HPV. Because the HPV vaccination comes in three doses separated by a period of months, many individuals either do not start the HPV vaccination process or do not receive all three doses. By regularly texting participants, the goal is to increase HPV vaccinations among young gay and bisexual men.

Racial/ethnic diversity in HIV research

The SMART Project. The SMART Project is an eHealth intervention for adolescent MSM that uses a variety of online interventions to target risky sexual behaviors that increase the chances of acquiring HIV. The intervention will target multiple cultural minority groups, will be delivered in both English and Spanish, and will reach adolescents in rural areas through online modalities.

CONNECT Complex Systems and Health Disparities Research Program. Despite engaging in fewer individual-level risk behaviors, Black gay and bisexual men have higher rates of HIV than their White peers. In light of this, the CONNECT Complex Systems and Health Disparities Research Program investigates possible sources of these disparities beyond the individual level, such as neighborhood-level access to health services or population-level social factors. CONNECT studies also examine the role of locations and venues, such as those where young men meet each other, in young Black MSM’s disparate level of risk for HIV.

ISGMH’s commitment to growth and inclusion has led its research into a variety of exciting new areas, and the Institute will continue to innovate in SGM health research.