In the United States, African American men who have sex with men (AA MSM) continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS. These disparities have not been adequately explained by individual level factors. Much of the HIV behavioral research to date has focused on measuring specific risk events without consideration of the social, geographic (ie. spatial) and temporal context of these events. Temporal and spatial dimensions are pertinent to the study of same sex behavior, particularly among AA MSM, who experience high levels of stigmatization and discrimination. Social networks have been found to be powerful influences on individuals'behaviors, through processes of social comparison, social monitoring and norm formation. However, what is less understood are the ways in which social networks are also shaped by time and geography. There has been little study of these dimensions as they relate to HIV risk and prevention, especially among AA MSM. The K01 Career Development award will allow me to undertake an interdisciplinary program of study and research concerning the temporal and spatial dimensions of social networks and how these influence HIV risk behavior, specifically among AA MSM. This training will result in my acquisition of knowledge and skills in geography and qualitative methodology to complement my existing research, with the goal of better informing the development of culturally appropriate interventions. Specifically, I will gain: 1) knowledge about concepts and methodologies from the subdisciplines time-geography, cultural geography and health geography as they apply to the study of social networks and HIV, 2) training in time-geography methodology to collect data about HIV risk behavior as it occurs within the context of social networks, place and time, 3) training in observational ethnographic methods, 4) skills in qualitative data analysis and, 5) intensive mentoring and guidance to integrate the training and research with my current research such that I can seek funding as an independent scientist and advance the field of HIV prevention science. One of the primary outcomes of this training will include development of a conceptual model that social scientists can use to design future interventions and studies which incorporates the spatial and temporal dimensions of social networks and HIV risk behavior. This model will serve as a basis for developing a larger R01 level study of AA MSM and HIV risk and development and evaluation of an accompanying HIV prevention behavioral intervention. Furthermore, the research and training from the award will result in scientific publications that will advance the field of HIV prevention and behavioral science.

Public Health Relevance

This research is an interdisciplinary approach to understand the socio-spatial and temporal context of HIV risk behavior among African American men who have sex with men (AA MSM). Results from this study will identify new conceptual pathways about HIV risk that can inform the development of sustainable culturally-relevant behavioral interventions and policies which bolster preventive behavior within various social contexts and reduce racial disparities in HIV among MSM.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
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Behavioral and Social Consequences of HIV/AIDS Study Section (BSCH)
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Newcomer, Susan
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Johns Hopkins University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
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Tobin, Karin; Davey-Rothwell, Melissa; Yang, Cui et al. (2014) An examination of associations between social norms and risky alcohol use among African American men who have sex with men. Drug Alcohol Depend 134:218-221
Tobin, Karin Elizabeth; Yang, Cui; Sun, Christina et al. (2014) Discrepancies between HIV prevention communication attitudes and actual conversations about HIV testing within social and sexual networks of African American men who have sex with men. Sex Transm Dis 41:221-6
Tobin, Karin E; Latkin, Carl A; Curriero, Frank C (2014) An examination of places where African American men who have sex with men (MSM) use drugs/drink alcohol: a focus on social and spatial characteristics. Int J Drug Policy 25:591-7
Tobin, Karin; Kuramoto, Satoko J; German, Danielle et al. (2013) Unity in diversity: results of a randomized clinical culturally tailored pilot HIV prevention intervention trial in Baltimore, Maryland, for African American men who have sex with men. Health Educ Behav 40:286-95
Tobin, K E; Cutchin, M; Latkin, C A et al. (2013) Social geographies of African American men who have sex with men (MSM): a qualitative exploration of the social, spatial and temporal context of HIV risk in Baltimore, Maryland. Health Place 22:1-6
Latkin, Carl; Yang, Cui; Tobin, Karin et al. (2012) Social network predictors of disclosure of MSM behavior and HIV-positive serostatus among African American MSM in Baltimore, Maryland. AIDS Behav 16:535-42
Latkin, Carl; Yang, Cui; Tobin, Karin et al. (2011) Differences in the social networks of African American men who have sex with men only and those who have sex with men and women. Am J Public Health 101:e18-23