LGBTQ Affirmative Research Group

The LGBTQ+ Affirmative Health Research Group is a collection of researchers at the Brown University School of Public Health, dedicated to advancing the health of sexual and gender minority populations locally, domestically, and internationally through innovative and community-engaged public health research. As researchers we employ a variety of methods and study designs to understand and advance the health of diverse LGBTQ+ populations. Our research ranges from epidemiological studies exploring the effects of hormones on physical and mental health outcomes with transgender and gender diverse people to intervention studies aimed at improving access to healthcare and preventing the spread of HIV and other STIs among at-risk and underserved LGBTQ communities.

Our faculty mentor and train undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students, as well as clinical and research post-doctoral fellows in LGBTQ+ health research. Our research is largely supported through grant funding from the: National Institutes of Health, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the Providence/Boston Center for AIDS Research, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, and Brown University.

A snapshot of student and faculty research and related grants are listed below.

Madina Agénor, ScD, MPH

Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Madina Agénor, ScD, MPH (she/her) is Assistant Professor in the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Center for Health Promotion and Health Equity. She is also Adjunct Faculty at The Fenway Institute and Director of the Sexual Health and Reproductive Experiences (SHARE) Lab. As a social epidemiologist, Dr. Agénor uses an intersectional lens and a mixed-methods research approach to investigate the structural and social determinants of sexual and reproductive health and cancer screening and prevention among multiply marginalized populations—especially sexual minority cisgender women, transgender and gender diverse young adults, Black cisgender women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people of color. Dr. Agénor completed postdoctoral research training in cancer prevention equity at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and was Visiting Research Faculty at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS at Yale University. She holds a Doctor of Science (ScD) in Social and Behavioral Sciences with a concentration in Women, Gender, and Health from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and a bachelor’s degree (AB) in Community Health and Gender Studies from Brown University.

Research Profile

Katie Biello, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Associate Professor of Epidemiology

Dr. Biello’s research interests include identifying and understanding the underlying risk factors for social inequities in HIV/STIs and developing behavioral interventions to reduce risk among racial, sexual, and gender minorities and those in resource limited settings, both domestically and globally.

Research Profile

Brad Brockmann, JV, MDiv

Assistant Professor of the Practice of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Mr. Brockmann is interested in raising awareness at the national and state level about the healthcare issues and challenges of incarcerated and other justice-involved populations, providing education and training opportunities for college, graduate, and medical students and encouraging student engagement and leadership in justice issues, and collaborating with local justice system stakeholders to identify and support projects that respond to the intersection of incarceration, recidivism, and public health in the State of Rhode Island.

Research Profile

Melissa A. Clark, PhD

Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice

Dr. Clark is a Survey Methodologist whose interests integrate survey design and sampling with substantive areas of underserved populations, women’s health, and participant-reported outcomes. The overarching theme in her research is to better understand the individual, social, and environmental barriers and facilitators to health and well-being among individuals who have traditionally experienced disparities in overall health status and access to high quality health care.

Research Profile

Mark A. Celio, PhD

Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences (Research)

Dr. Celio’s research focuses on the effects of alcohol on decision making and behavior in sexual situations, particularly among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. His research aims to guide the development of new preventative interventions targeting heavy drinking as a means to reduce alcohol-related sexual risk taking and HIV/STI transmission.

Research Profile

Jaclyn White Hughto, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences; Assistant Professor of Epidemiology

Dr. Hughto’s research aims to document the structural-, interpersonal-, and individual-level factors that contribute to health inequities for sexual and gender minorities and other marginalized populations; and develop and test community-based interventions to improve the health of at-risk communities.

Research Profile

Christopher W. Kahler, PhD

Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Chair of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Dr. Kahler’s research focuses on (a) the development of novel smoking cessation treatments, (b) the treatment of combined heavy drinking and smoking, and (c) the role of alcohol and brief alcohol interventions in the treatment and prevention of HIV infection.

Research Profile

Matthew J. Mimiaga, ScD, MPH

Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Professor of Epidemiology, Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior

Dr. Mimiaga’s research program focuses on interventions to decrease sexual risk in HIV primary and secondary prevention; biobehavioral interventions to enhance antiretroviral medication uptake and adherence; psychosocial treatment interventions for stimulant use disorder and concurrent HIV risk; infectious disease and psychiatric epidemiology; and global health research

Research Profile

Amy S. Nunn, ScD, MS

Associate Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Associate Professor of Medicine

Dr. Nunn conducts applied research on how to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in HIV infection, treatment and care, and is known for her innovative community partnerships to address disparities, including engaging clergy and community leaders in HIV testing, treatment and social marketing campaigns.

Research Profile

Don Operario, PhD

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Dr. Operario is committed to research that addresses health inequities in the United States and in international settings. His current research involves developing and testing psychosocial and community-based health interventions for reducing HIV transmission, as well as other mixed methods research aiming to understand the determinants of psychological and behavioral health in racial/ethnic minority populations and sexual and gender minority populations.

Research Profile

Theresa I. Shireman, PhD

Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice

Dr. Shireman specializes in pharmacoepidemiology and health economic evaluations. Her significant research achievements include 1) contributions to understanding how medications are used and to what effect in people who are on chronic dialysis, 2) development of a novel methodology to tracking medication exposure over time, 3) development of a bleeding risk prediction model for warfarin in older adult patients with atrial fibrillation, and 4) health economic evaluations of expensive therapeutic agents.

Research Profile

Jacob J. van den Berg, PhD, MS

Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences (Research), Assistant Professor of Medicine (Research)

Dr. van den Berg's research focuses on the development, implementation, and evaluation of community-based behavioral and biomedical health interventions for underserved and marginalized groups. He is particularly interested in advancing the integration of health informatics (eHealth/mHealth) and biobehavioral strategies for preventing HIV/STIs and substance use among racial/ethnic and sexual and gender minority populations.

Research Profile

Tyler B. Wray, PhD

Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Dr. Wray’s research explores ways technology can be used to improve HIV outcomes, including reducing transmission risk, increasing testing and diagnosis, retaining individuals in care, and ensuring adherence to medications. He also leads a pilot study funded by the Brown/Tufts/Lifespan Center for AIDS Research exploring adherence to pre-exposure prophylaxis in patients at especially high-risk for HIV.

Research Profile

Effects of Acute Alcohol on Sex-Specific Delay Discounting and Subsequent Sexual Decision Making among MSM

Principal Investigator: Dr. Mark Celio
Funding: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIH
Years: 2016-2019

Translational Methods for Developing and Testing a Multi-Target Brief Intervention to Reduce Alcohol Use and Increase ART Adherence among Racially Diverse PLWH

Principal Investigators: Dr. Mark Celio & Dr. Peter Monti
Funding: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIH
Years: 2017-2019

Brief couples-based alcohol intervention for HIV-infected MSM and their primary partners

Principal Investigators: Dr. Kristi Gamarel & Dr. Christopher Kahler
Funding: National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism, NIH
Years: 2018-2021

Examining Multilevel Factors Associated with Entry into and Engagement in the HIV Prevention and Care Continuum for Transgender Adults in Massachusetts and Rhode Island

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jaclyn White Hughto
Funding: Providence/Brown Center for AIDS Research
Years: 2018-2019

Characterizing Disparities in the HIV Prevention and Care Continuum among Transgender and Cisgender Medicaid and Medicare Beneficiaries

Principal Investigators: Dr. Jaclyn White Hughto & Dr. Theresa Shireman
Funding: Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services
Years: 2018-2021

Reaching Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino MSM through Social Media about Treatment as Prevention and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jacob van den Berg
Funding: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Years: 2016-2020

Exploring Quality Measures for the Care of Transgender Persons

Principal Investigators: Jasuja & Rose; Co-I: Dr. Jaclyn White Hughto
Funding: National Institute on Minority Health & Health Disparities, NIH
Years: 2017-2019

Integrated behavioral activation and HIV risk reduction counseling for MSM with stimulant abuse

Principal Investigators: Dr. Matthew Mimiaga & Dr. Steven Safren
Funding: National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH
Years: 2017-2022

Optimizing PrEP uptake & adherence among MSWs using a 2-stage randomization design

Principal Investigators: Dr. Matthew Mimiaga, Dr. Katie Biello, Dr. Phillip Chan
Funding: National Institute of Mental Health, NIH
Years: 2016-2020

Mobile Adaptation and Testing of a Uniquely Targeted HIV Intervention for Young Transgender Women

Principal Investigators: Dr. Matthew Mimiaga, Lisa Kuhnss
Funding: National Institute of Mental Health, NIH
Years: 2019-2021

Alcohol and HIV: Biobehavioral Interactions and Intervention

Principal Investigator: Dr. Peter Monti
Funding: National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism, NIH
Years: 2015-2020

Assessing Gaps in HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Initiation and Retention using Pharmacy Claims Data

Principal Investigators: Dr. Amy Nunn & Dr. Lorraine Dean
Funding: National Institute of Nursing Research, NIH
Years: 2019-2021

Characterizing the HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis care continuum for African American and Hispanic/Latino men who have sex with men

Principal Investigators: Dr. Amy Nunn &Dr. Phil Chan
Funding: National Institute of Mental Health, NIH
Years: 2017-2022

PrEP uptake, adherence, & retention for African American MSM in Mississippi

Principal Investigators: Dr. Amy Nunn, Dr. Philip Chan, Dr. Leandro Mena
Funding: National Institute of Mental Health, NIH
Years: 2016-2019

The Brown Initiative in HIV and AIDS Clinical Research for Minority Communities

Principal Investigators: Dr. Amy Nunn & Dr. Timothy Flanigan
Funding: National Institute of Mental Health, NIH
Years: 2014-2019

Transgender Cohort Study of Gender Affirmation and HIV-Related Health

Principal Investigator: Dr. Sari L. Reisner, Co-I: Dr. Jaclyn White Hughto
Funding: Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute
Years: 2018-2021

Technology-Based Intervention for Alcohol & HIV Risk in Men having Sex with Men

Principal Investigators: Dr. Tyler Wray, Dr. Christopher Kahler, Dr. Don Operario
Funding: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIH
Years: 2015-2018

Note: * = student led publication

Arnold, T., Brinkley-Rubinstein, L., Chan, P. A., Perez-Brumer, A., Bologna, E. S., Beauchamps, L., ... & Nunn, A.S. (2017). Social, structural, behavioral and clinical factors influencing retention in Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) care in Mississippi. PloS one12(2), e0172354.

Bazzi, A.R., Clark, M.A. Winter, M., Ozonoff, A., and Boehmer, U. (2018). Resilience among Breast Cancer Survivors of Different Sexual Orientations. LGBT Health, 5(5): 295-302.

Biello, K.B., Hosek, S., Drucker, M. T., Belzer, M., Mimiaga, M. J., Marrow, E., … Mayer, K. H. (2018). Preferences for Injectable PrEP Among Young U.S. Cisgender Men and Transgender Women and Men Who Have Sex with Men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 47(7), 2101–2107.

Boehmer, U., Miao, X., Linkletter, C. and Clark, M.A. (2015). Health Conditions in Younger, Middle, and Older Ages: Are There Differences by Sexual Orientation. LGBT Health1(5): 168-176.

Boehmer, U., Miao, X., Linkletter, C., & Clark, M. A. (2012). Adult Health Behaviors Over the Life Course by Sexual Orientation. American Journal of Public Health, 102(2), 292–300.

Brinkley-Rubinstein, L., Peterson, M., Arnold, T., Nunn, A. S., Beckwith, C. G., Castonguay, B., ... & Chan, P. A. (2018). Knowledge, interest, and anticipated barriers of pre-exposure prophylaxis uptake and adherence among gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men who are incarcerated. PloS one13(12), e0205593.

Bradley Brockmann, Sean Cahill, Vickie Henry, Timothy Wang. (2018). Emerging Best Practices for the Management and Treatment of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Intersex Youth in Juvenile Justice Settings. Boston: Fenway Institute Press.

Bradley Brockmann, Sean Cahill. (forthcoming, Summer 2019). Emerging Best Practices for the Management and Treatment of Incarcerated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Adults. Boston: Fenway Institute Press.

Celio, M. A., Mastroleo, N. R., Barnett, N., P., Colby, S. M., Kahler, C. W., Operario, D., & Monti, P. M. (2019). Mechanisms of behavior change in a brief dual-target motivational intervention: Reduction in alcohol use mediates intervention effects on risky sex. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

Chan, P. A., Mena, L., Patel, R., Oldenburg, C. E., Beauchamps, L., Perez‐Brumer, A. G., ... & Nunn, A.S. (2016). Retention in care outcomes for HIV pre‐exposure prophylaxis implementation programmes among men who have sex with men in three US cities. Journal of the International AIDS Society, 19(1), 20903.

Chan, P. A., Towey, C., Poceta, J., Rose, J., Bertrand, T., Kantor, R., ... & Nunn, A.S. (2016). Online hookup sites for meeting sexual partners among men who have sex with men in Rhode Island, 2013: a call for public health action. Public Health Reports131(2), 264-271.

Chan, P. A., Glynn, T. R., Oldenburg, C. E., Montgomery, M. C., Robinette, A. E., Almonte, A., … Nunn, A. S. (2016). Implementation of pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention among men who have sex with men at a New England sexually transmitted diseases clinic. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 43(11), 717–723.

Hughto, J. M.W., Clark, K. A., Altice, F. L., Reisner, S. L., Kershaw, T. S., & Pachankis, J. E. (2017). Improving correctional healthcare providers’ ability to care for transgender patients: Development and evaluation of a theory-driven cultural and clinical competence intervention. Social Science & Medicine (1982), 195, 159–169.

Hughto, J. M.W., Reisner, S. L., & Pachankis, J. E. (2015). Transgender stigma and health: A critical review of stigma determinants, mechanisms, and interventions. Social Science & Medicine (1982), 147, 222–231.

Hughto, J.M.W., Mimiaga, M.J., Krakower, D.S., & Mayer, K.H. (2012). Evolution of Massachusetts physician attitudes, knowledge and experience regarding the use of antiretrovirals for HIV prevention. AIDS Patient Care & STDs, 26(7), 395-405.

*Jin, H., Restar, A., Biello, K., Kuhns, L., Reisner, S., Garofalo, R., & Mimiaga, M. J. (2019). Burden of HIV among young transgender women: factors associated with HIV infection and HIV treatment engagement. AIDS Care, 31(1), 125–130.

Kahler, C.W., Wray, T.B., Pantalone, D.W., Kruis, R.D.,Mastroleo, N.R., Monti. P.M., & Mayer, K.H. (2015). Daily associations between alcohol use and unprotected anal sex among heavy drinking HIV-positive men who have sex with men. AIDS and Behavior, 19, 422-430.

Kahler, C.W., Wray, T., Pantalone, D., Mastroleo, N., Kruis, R., Mayer, K.H., & Monti, P.M. (2015). Assessing sexual motives for drinking alcohol among HIV-positive men who have sex with men. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 29, 247-253.

Kahler, C.W., Pantalone, D.W., Mastroleo, N.R., Liu, T., Bove, G., Ramratnam. B., Monti, P.M., & Mayer, K.H. (2018). Motivational interviewing with personalized feedback to reduce alcohol use in HIV-infected men who have sex with men: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 86, 645-656.

Magno, L., Dourado, I., Sutten Coats, C., Wilhite, D., da Silva, L. A. V., Oni-Orisan, O., ... & Nunn, A. S. (2019). Knowledge and willingness to use pre-exposure prophylaxis among men who have sex with men in Northeastern Brazil. Global Public Health, 1-14.

McCauley, E., Eckstrand, K., Desta, B., Bouvier, B., Brockmann, B., & Brinkley-Rubinstein, L. (2018). Exploring Healthcare Experiences for Incarcerated Individuals Who Identify as Transgender in a Southern Jail. Transgender Health, 3(1), 34–41.

Medina, M. M., Crowley, C., Montgomery, M. C., Tributino, A., Almonte, A., Sowemimo-Coker, G., Nunn, A.S., & Chan, P. A. (2018). Disclosure of HIV Serostatus and Pre-exposure Prophylaxis Use on Internet Hookup Sites Among Men Who have Sex with Men. AIDS and Behavior, 1-8.

Mimiaga, M.J., Hughto, J.W., Biello, K., Santostefano, C.M., Kuhns, L.M., Reisner, S.L., Garofalo, R. Longitudinal analysis of syndemic psychosocial problems predicting HIV risk behavior among a multicity prospective cohort of sexually active young transgender women in the United States. JAIDS. (In Press).

Mimiaga, M.J., Bogart LM, Thurston IB, Santostefano CM, Closson EF, Skeer MR, Biello KB, Safren SA. Positive STEPS: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of a Multicomponent, Technology-Enhanced, Customizable Antiretroviral Adherence Intervention for HIV-Infected Adolescents and Young Adults. AIDS Patient Care and STDs. (In Press).

Mimiaga, M.J., Pantalone, D.W., Biello, K.B., Hughto, J.M.W., Frank, J., O'Cleirigh, C., Reisner, S.L., Restar, A., Mayer, K.H., Safren, S.A. An Initial Randomized Controlled Trial of Behavioral Activation for Treatment of Concurrent Crystal Methamphetamine Dependence and Sexual Risk for HIV Acquisition among Men Who Have Sex with Men. AIDS Care. (In Press). 

Nunn, A.S., Towey, C., Chan, P. A., Parker, S., Nichols, E., Oleskey, P., ... & Trooskin, S. (2016). Routine HIV screening in an urban community health center: results from a geographically focused implementation science program. Public Health Reports131(1_suppl), 30-40.

Nunn, A.S., Yolken, A., Cutler, B., Trooskin, S., Wilson, P., Little, S., & Mayer, K. (2014). Geography should not be destiny: focusing HIV/AIDS implementation research and programs on microepidemics in US neighborhoods. American Journal of Public Health, 104(5), 775-780.

Operario, D., Gamarel, K. E., Grin, B. M., Lee, J. H., Kahler, C. W., Marshall, B. D., ... & Zaller, N. D. (2015). Sexual minority health disparities in adult men and women in the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2001–2010. American Journal of Public Health, 105(10), e27-e34.

Operario, D., Gamarel, K.E., Iwamoto, M., Suzuki, S., Suico, S., Darbes, L.A., Nemoto, T. (2017). Couples-focused prevention program to reduce HIV risk among transgender women and their primary male partners: Feasibility and promise of the Couples HIV Intervention Program. AIDS and Behavior, 21(8), 2452-2463.

Operario, D., Wang, D., Zaller, N. D., Yang, M. F., Blaney, K., Cheng, J., ... & Galea, J. (2016). Effect of a knowledge-based and skills-based programme for physicians on risk of sexually transmitted reinfections among high-risk patients in China: a cluster randomised trial. The Lancet Global Health4(1), e29-e36.

Patel, R. R., Chan, P. A., Mena, L., Crowley, J. S., McCoy, K., & Nunn, A.S. (2017). Time to Make the Jump: Translating HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis Research Into Real-World Public Health Impact. Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes (1999)75(5), e144-e146.

Pérez, A. E., Wray, T. B., Celio, M. A., & Monti, P. M. (2018). HIV-related thought avoidance, sexual risk, and alcohol use among men who have sex with men. AIDS Care, 30, 930-935.

Raifman, J., Dean, L., Montgomery, M.C., Amonth, A., Arrington-Sanders, R., Stein, M.D., Nunn, A.S., Sosnowy, C.D., Chan, P.A. (2019). Racial and ethnic disparities in HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis awareness among men who have sex with men. AIDS and Behavior, 1-4.

*Restar, A. J., Kuhns, L., Reisner, S. L., Ogunbajo, A., Garofalo, R., & Mimiaga, M. J. (2018). Acceptability of Antiretroviral Pre-exposure Prophylaxis from a Cohort of Sexually Experienced Young Transgender Women in Two U.S. Cities. AIDS and Behavior, 22(11), 3649–3657.

van den Berg, J. J., Larson, H. E., Zimet, G. D., & Lally, M. A. (2014). Bundling HPV vaccination and rapid HIV testing for young gay and bisexual men. LGBT Health, 3, 233–237. https://doi:10.1089/lgbt.2014.0028.

van den Berg, J. J., Silverman, T., Fernandez, M. I., Henny, K. D., Gaul, Z. J., Sutton M. Y., & Operario, D. (2018). Using eHealth to reach black and Hispanic men who have sex with men regarding treatment as prevention and preexposure prophylaxis: protocol for a small randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research: Research Protocols, 7, e11047. https://doi:10.2196/11047

van den Berg, J. J., Zaller, N. D., Gillani, F. S., Dunsiger, S. I., Marshall, B. D. L., Kahler, C. W., & Operario, D. (2019). Longitudinal HIV Transmission Risk Profiles Among Men Who Have Sex with Men Living with HIV in the SUN Study. American Journal of Men’s Health, 1, 1-9.

Wray, T. B., Celio, M. A., Pérez, A. E., & Monti, P. M. (2018). Causal effects of alcohol intoxication on sexual risk intentions and condom negotiation skills among high-risk MSM. AIDS & Behavior.

Bachelor of Public Health

Drew Hawkinson, “A Comparative Analysis of Knowledge, Perceptions, and Barriers of HIV Prevention Between Younger and Older Men Who Have Sex with Men” (2019).

Master of Public Health

Sutten Coats, Cassandra Leigh, "Violence, discrimination, and patterns of alcohol use in a community sample of high-risk transgender women" (2017). Public Health Theses and Dissertations. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.