Gender Equity Research Track | NYU Langone Health

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Section for Health Equity Research Tracks Gender Equity Research Track

Gender Equity Research Track

The Gender Equity Research Track, launched in 2019 under the leadership of Sahnah Lim, PhD, MPH, is housed within the Section for Health Equity in NYU Langone’s Division of Health and Behavior. The overall goal of the track is to improve gender-related health equity through research and action, especially among understudied, multiply marginalized communities.

Research populations of interest include, but are not limited to, sexual and gender minority populations, survivors of gender-based violence, and sex workers. The Gender Equity Research Track’s core principles include community engagement, trauma-informed research, and application of the theory of intersectionality.

Gender-Based Violence Among Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders

This study is a National Institutes of Health (NIH)‒funded administrative supplement to establish the Gender Equity Research Track at the Section for Health Equity. Our first objective is to understand the health and service needs of Asian and Latinx survivors of sex trafficking in New York City. Our second objective is to conduct a systematic review of gender-based violence among Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) women and girls, specifically focusing on non-partner sexual assault and child sex abuse. Our systematic review will inform the development of a national strategic plan on gender-based violence for AANHPI women and girls with the input of the National Advisory Committee of the NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health.

Impact of Social Cohesion and Social Capital in Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Uptake and Adherence Among Transwomen of Color

The NIH-funded Trying to Understand Relationships, Networks, and Neighborhoods among Transwomen of Color (TURNNT) study is led by principal investigator Dustin Duncan, ScD, associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Collaborating with Dr. Duncan, we use real-time geospatial methods to investigate cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships between social cohesion and social capital, defined as resources accessed through social networks or neighborhoods. We are assessing GPS-defined activity spaces or neighborhoods as well as social networks in relation to HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis uptake and adherence among Black and Latina transwomen in New York City followed over one-year.

Specifically, we are recruiting 200 Black and 100 Latina transwomen in the TURNNT cohort using clinic- and community-based recruitment methods in partnership with Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, a major provider of healthcare for transwomen in New York City, and via recruitment at dance clubs and other venues. As part of an administrative supplement, Dr. Lim is leading the recruitment of 50 additional Asian American transgender women for the parent study in collaboration with Apicha Community Health Center.

Understanding Factors Influencing HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Uptake Among Low-Income, Cis- and Transgender Women of Color in New York City

Women of color in the United States face a disproportionate burden of HIV, especially among those who are multiply marginalized. Despite its demonstrated effectiveness in preventing HIV, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) uptake has been slow among women of color. While barriers to PrEP uptake have been documented, it is unclear how multiple marginalization shapes PrEP adoption. Under the direction of Robert A. Pitts, MD, we aim to qualitatively understand factors influencing PrEP uptake among low-income, limited-English-proficient, cis- and transgender women of color in New York City. Our study is funded by the Gilead Foundation. Dr. Lim serves as sub‒principal investigator, leading the study’s qualitative aspects.

A Rapid Community Needs Assessment Among Survivors of Gender-Based Violence in New York City During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In response to reports by service providers of rising rates of intimate partner violence during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, we partnered with Freedom Youth Family Justice Center (Freedom Youth) to implement an online survey to assess the social and health needs of gender-based violence survivors in New York City. Recruitment was conducted through social media outlets, and anonymous surveys were administered online to 201 participants in early May 2020.

Participants were mostly cis-gender, heterosexual, and U.S.-born Latinx women:

  • Sixty-four percent of women report having been propositioned by their landlord or roommate for sex in exchange for rent since the pandemic.
  • Ninety-five percent of women report being a survivor of recent intimate partner violence; 53 percent of those women reported worsened abuse during the pandemic.
  • Forty percent of women currently living with their abuser report that they were doing so solely due to the shelter-in-place order.
  • Five percent of women are engaging in survival sex (defined as providing sexual services in exchange for food, money, or shelter) since the pandemic started, and an additional 40 percent were engaging in survival sex even before the pandemic and continue to do so.

Our overall research found that food insecurity, poverty, unemployment, and mental health needs are alarmingly high. We are considering expanding the rapid community needs assessment or conducting a follow-up survey for additional analysis.

Definitions of Sexual Consent and Assault Among Asian Undergraduate Students in the New York City Area

Asian American college students may have a unique understanding of sexual violence. Generally, Asian Americans display low help-seeking behaviors, including underreporting of sexual violence, due to various structural and cultural factors. To date, there is little research on sexual violence among Asian American populations, and disaggregated data by Asian subgroups is often unavailable. Our study seeks to assess definitions of sexual consent and sexual assault to determine perceived barriers to help-seeking among Asian American undergraduate students in New York City through qualitative approaches. We aim to elicit perspectives from diverse Asian American subgroups, represented by approximately 60 East, South East, and South Asian men and women, through in-depth-interviews.

Sexual Violence Among South Asian Young Adults in the New York City Area

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the entire population of New York City and particularly on mental health outcomes among survivors of gender-based violence. The shelter-in-place order and trauma from coping with the pandemic can trigger participants about past experiences of sexual assault. Anecdotally, South Asian young adults in and around New York City have started to disclose their histories of sexual assault on social media outlets such as Twitter and Instagram in large numbers during the pandemic. Responses from social media participants range from being supportive to hostile, which can further exacerbate existing mental health disorders.

Accordingly, we seek to assess sexual violence attitudes, sexual violence victimization, help-seeking behavior, and mental health outcomes among South Asian young adults residing or staying in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Because of cultural and religious factors that stigmatize sexuality and sexual violence among South Asians, it is critical to assess these factors in order to develop interventions to support survivors as well as develop interventions to address harmful attitudes and behaviors for prevention—particularly during stressful periods such as global pandemics. Individuals are recruited through social media outreach and asked to complete an online survey.