I am a first year doctoral student, and I anticipate developing and defending a thesis proposal in my third year. Since I am still acquiring the knowledge and tools I will need to perform my research, I do not currently have a thesis topic selected. I entered the program with a specific area of research: the utilization of community-based programs in the development of relapse prevention methods for HIV-associated risk behaviors. The public health doctoral research will focus on Ms. Gibbons' particular interest in behavioral research for HIV/AIDS prevention. While there have been some long-awaited breakthroughs in drug development with the utilization of protease inhibitors, there still is no cure or vaccine for HIV disease. Therefore, prevention education and intervention programs remain essential to slow the transmission and geographic spread of HIV. Research will be performed on primary prevention tactics to identify and evaluate AIDS-intervention strategies and to target specific at-risk populations in need of these interventions. To achieve this goal, data from quantitative and qualitative sources will be employed to measure changes in HIV knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors, and to determine societal factors that may be barriers to prevention efforts. The intervention components which will be assessed include: social determinants of health and risk behaviors, the component of high-risk behaviors within specific communities,the impact of different community- based behavior change programs, and the impact of human rights and other societal factors on risk behaviors pertaining to HIV. Adolescent women from developing countries will be the focus of the research, in attempt to determine characteristics that put this population at risk. The research will examine the psychosocial determinants for HIV risk behaviors and investigate intervention programs that would enable the health care professional to target at-risk populations as a whole, rather than individually. This task would encompass the understanding of what crucial components identify at-risk populations, how these components differ in various settings, and how the social structures allow for, and hinder, behavioral change. The goal of the research will be to develop long-term prevention methods that address relapse into risky behaviors.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG5-AARR-7 (01))
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Altman, Fred
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Johns Hopkins University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
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