Congratulations to three outstanding T32 Fellows
Congratulations to pre-doctoral T32 Fellow Christina Aivadyan, who was awarded an F31, and post-doctoral Fellows Drs. Kristi Stringer and Brandy Henry, who were hired into tenure-track positions.
SIG helps steward both pre- and post-doctoral researchers as they transition into independent scientists serving as Principal Investigators on grants and novel programs of research through two training programs: T32 and HISTP. The T32 program provides training for pre- and post-doctoral scholars in the prevention, treatment, and care of HIV and drug use among individuals in the criminal justice system.
Of the T32 achievements, SIG Director and T32 Multiple PI Dr. Nabila El-Bassel says,
"I am pleased to have mentored and collaborated with our outstanding T32 fellows. Their dedication to interdisciplinary research, co-occurring issues of HIV, substance use, opioid use disorders, and to people who impacted by the criminal justice system, has contributed to both the success of the program and research in these important areas."
F31 Awarded to Assess the Influence of State-Level Confidentiality-Relevant HIV Laws on U.S. Adolescents’ HIV Testing Practices
F31 text provided by Ms. Aivadyan
How do state confidentiality laws in sexual health services affect HIV testing practices for youth?
Christina Aivadyan, a pre-doctoral fellow in the T32 Program, was just awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F31) by the National Institute of Mental Health to examine the influence of state laws related to confidentiality in sexual health services on U.S. adolescents’ HIV testing practices.
About the F31 Award
The F31 provides a funding mechanism for pre-doctoral students to receive training and support necessary to develop into independent research scientists through mentored training while conducting dissertation research.
Of the award, Ms. Aivadyan says: "The exceptional training and mentorship I have received from Drs. Elwin Wu (primary mentor/sponsor) and Nabila El-Bassel (sponsor) and through the T32 Training Program was integral to preparing and competing for this award."
The issue: Youth are most likely *not* to know their HIV status
Rates of HIV testing are very low among U.S. adolescents and have significantly declined in recent years. Compared to all other age groups, young people are the least likely to be aware of their infection and linked to care in a timely manner, increasing their risk of HIV-related illness and transmitting HIV to others.
Confidentiality concerns are a major barrier to health care for adolescents, suggesting that laws related to confidentiality may have an influence on their testing practices. Confidentiality-relevant HIV laws vary on the state-level.
The exceptional training and mentorship I have received from Drs. Elwin Wu and Nabila El-Bassel and through the T32 Training Program was integral to preparing and competing for this award.
Gap in the research
The overwhelming majority of prior research has focused on individual-level factors associated with HIV testing among U.S. adolescents (e.g., substance use), leaving a gap in the knowledge base about structural-level factors – like state-level confidentiality relevant HIV laws – that can be modified to mitigate HIV risk for adolescents on a population level.
Ms. Aivadyan's proposed solution
The overarching goal of this F31 award is to address this gap by examining the influence of state legal climate – confidentiality-relevant HIV laws in the aggregate – on U.S. adolescents’ HIV testing practices. This goal will be achieved through secondary analysis of state legal climate on lifetime HIV testing in the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System and primary data collection and analysis of qualitative interviews with adolescents in three states with varying legal climates – Louisiana, New York, and Utah.
Ms. Aivadyan's goals for the F31 and beyond
Of her plans both for the F31 and future career, Ms. Aivadyan writes: "I am pursuing a PhD in Social Work with the long-term goal of becoming an independent investigator who conducts policy-relevant HIV prevention research tailored to the developmental context of adolescents and young adults. My research experience to date has largely involved the use of quantitative methods to evaluate individual-level substance use and sexual risk behavior among adults. This F31 award will facilitate transition to the next stage of my research career by providing me with specialized training, mentorship from a team of internationally recognized leaders in the fields of HIV prevention and adolescent health, and hands-on experience conducting mixed-methods research that will enable me to move beyond the individual level and meaningfully explore structural-level factors that may shape HIV risk for youth."
T32 Fellow Dr. Kristi Stringer hired in tenure-track position
Dr. Kristi Stringer, a T32 post-doctoral Fellow, recently accepted a tenure track position as Assistant Professor of Public Health at Middle Tennessee State university, located in her hometown and alma mater.
Of the achievement, Dr. Stringer reports, "I am truly honored and overcome with joy...in 1999 I walked across the stage at Murphy Center for high school graduation. Ten years later I walked across it a second time for my Bachelor graduation. This fall, I’ll enter Murphy Center as the newest Assistant Professor of Public Health. I’m excited to give back to the community that refused to let this teen mom fall through the cracks."
T32 Fellow Dr. Brandy Henry hired in tenure-track position
COVID-19 related substance use services policy changes
Dr. Brandy Henry, a T32 post-doctoral Fellow, will start a tenure track position as Assistant Professor in the Pennsylvania State University College of Education. There, she will also be affiliated with the Consortium to Combat Substance Abuse.
I received extensive interdisciplinary research instruction and training on the intersecting issues of substance use, HIV, and research with the criminal justice system and justice-involved populations. The training that I received under this program has positioned me to excel in my next role.
Of her experience with the T32 program, she writes:
"During my training under the Training Program on HIV and Substance Use in the Criminal Justice System (T32 DA037801) I received extensive interdisciplinary research instruction and training on the intersecting issues of substance use, HIV, and research with the criminal justice system and justice-involved populations. Much of this training has focused on the urgent and timely issues of the opioid epidemic and implementation science. The training that I received under this program has positioned me to excel in my next role. I will also be responsible for teaching courses related to substance use and criminal justice involvement in the College of Education’s human services program."
I am pleased to have mentored and collaborated with our outstanding T32 fellows. Their dedication to interdisciplinary research, co-occurring issues of HIV, substance use, opioid use disorders, and to people who impacted by the criminal justice system, has contributed to both the success of the program and research in these important areas.
Apply for our T32 Fellowship
Congratulations to the Fellows.
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Learn more about the T32 program and apply.
The T32 training program, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, provides both pre- and post-doctortoral training. T32 is a joint initiative led by SIG at the Columbia School of Social Work and the Mailman School of Public Health.