Phone: (212) 570-3029
The Laboratory of Social and Behavioral Sciences adopts a social determinants of health approach, applying social and behavioral theories and methods to the study of blood-borne infections and related human behaviors. The lab, headed by Victoria Frye, locates the production of health outcomes, particularly health disparities, at the nexus of social structure and social interaction. Closely examining the social systems and psychological and biological mechanisms of action driving and mediating population health outcomes, the lab has a strong substantive focus on disparities in HIV/AIDS and intimate partner and sexual violence and engages in highly collaborative methodological work across a range of disciplines. Through the development of rigorous conceptual frameworks and subsequent empirical analyses applying a range of analytic techniques, in particular blended methods, the lab contributes uniquely to our understanding of the distribution and determinants of highly interlinked mental, physical and sexual health and social outcomes.
The lab is currently engaged in three research areas that manifest the approach described above.
Area 1: The Role of Men and Gender in the Heterosexual HIV Epidemic
In this area, the lab studies the role of men, heterosexual as well as gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM), in the heterosexual HIV epidemic. This work is conducted in collaboration with the Laboratory of Infectious Disease Prevention, headed by Dr. Beryl Koblin, also of LFKRI. Dr. Frye is Co-Principal Investigator of a 4-year Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funded study (1-UR6/PS-000667-01), designed to test an HIV prevention intervention designed specifically for heterosexual, African-American men. Other analyses focus on the role of MSM in HIV acquisition among heterosexual women. Future work will explore the understandings of sexual risk and safety among young women who have multiple sexual partners and/or are primary partners of men engaged in concurrent sexual relationships, as well as develop and test sexual health and well-being interventions for women who are at high risk of HIV infection and experience intimate partner violence.
Area 2: Urban Space and Place: The Role of Social, Sexual and Residential Neighborhoods on the HIV epidemic among MSM
This work examines the roles of urban space and gender, racial and sexual identity development in inter-related health outcomes among MSM. Using mixed methods, including in-depth qualitative interviews with men who discovered their sexual orientations and identities in close proximity to the gay neighborhoods of lower Manhattan, one of America's great gay enclaves, we explore how social relations along various axes of interaction -- race/racism, sexual identity/heterosexism -- social and physical safety, and social and kin networks, play out in the spaces and places of New York City. This work is supported by a 4-year NICHD funded R01 to Drs. Koblin and Frye (R01 HD059729-01). Future research in this area will focus on testing whether disparities in the distribution of personal and socio-ecological stressors potentially contribute to racial disparities in negative mental health outcomes among MSM, as mediated by biomarkers of stress.
Area 3: Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence: Examining the Roles of Neighborhood Characteristics and Stigma
This research is the focus of a 5-year K01 award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to Dr. Frye to study the impact of neighborhood characteristics and drug-user status on the informal social control of intimate partner violence (K01 DA-020774). Critically appraising social disorganization theory, the work adopts a feminist approach to study whether and how neighbors provide support to victims and/or sanction perpetrators of partner violence. The work is designed to inform the development of interventions that apply both community mobilization and social norms approaches to primary prevention of intimate partner and sexual violence. This work springs from Dr. Frye extensive work studying intimate partner femicide.