HIV/STI Risk Among Young Expectant Fathers Focus of $2.5 Million NIH Grant

Trace Kershaw

A $2.5 million five-year National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) grant to Yale School of Medicine researchers will be used to study the role male partners play in the health and sexual decisions of young couples.

“HIV/STI Risk Among Young Expectant Fathers: Relationship Attachment & Transition,” will examine the HIV/sexually transmitted infection risk behavior, relationship quality and parenting functioning for expectant fathers and their pregnant adolescent partners from pregnancy to parenthood. The research team will be led by Principal Investigator Trace Kershaw, assistant professor of epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health (EPH) at the Yale School of Medicine.

 “Heterosexual men are the forgotten group in HIV/STI prevention and maternal child health research,” said Kershaw. “Women have received much of the attention in prevention research. Less is known about the role of men. Giving both men and women a voice in HIV/STI prevention will provide a complete picture about a couples’ sexual health decision-making and will give insight into the intrapersonal, interpersonal and social context of HIV-risk. Expectant fathers are essential to the health and well-being of our community, having a significant impact on their own health as well as the health of the adolescent mother and child.”

We hope to enhance current and future interventions to prevent HIV and other STIs for both young men and women. “Integrating these prevention needs within programs aimed at improving prenatal and postnatal health and parental functioning may be beneficial in terms of lowering HIV risk and other negative health and social outcomes such as negative child behavior and poverty,” said Kershaw. “Results will also inform couples on maintaining healthy relationships.”

Researchers will examine these issues in a multi-site longitudinal study of young expectant fathers and their pregnant adolescent partners to be conducted in Connecticut health clinics. Data will be collected through Audio Computer Assisted Self-Interview (ACASI) and semi-annual STI testing.

Co-researchers on this study include Linda Niccolai and Jeannette Ickovics, both of EPH, and Derrick Gordon, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale.

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