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1.  Differences in Alcohol Use and Alcohol-Related Problems between Transgender- and Nontransgender-identified Young Adults 
Drug and alcohol dependence  2015;154:251-259.
Little is known about differences in alcohol use and alcohol-related problems between transgender- and nontransgender-identified populations. Using data from a large-scale health survey, we compare the drinking patterns and prevalence of alcohol-related problems of transgender-identified individuals to nontransgender-identified males and females. For transgender-identified people, we examine how various forms of victimization relate to heavy episodic drinking (HED).
Cross-sectional surveys were completed by 75,192 students aged 18–29 years attending 120 post-secondary educational institutions in the United States from 2011–2013. Self-reported measures included alcohol use, alcohol-related problems, victimization, and sociodemographics, including 3 gender-identity groups: transgender-identified individuals; nontransgender-identified males; and nontransgender-identified females.
Compared to transgender-identified individuals, nontransgender-identified males were more likely to report HED in the past 2 weeks (relative risk=1.42; p=0.006); however, nontransgender-identified males and females reported HED on fewer days than transgender-identified people (incidence-rate ratios [IRRs] ranged from 0.28–0.43; p-values<0.001). Compared to transgender-identified people, nontransgender-identified males and females had lower odds of past-year alcohol-related sexual assault and suicidal ideation (odds ratios ranged from 0.24–0.45; p-values<0.05). Among transgender-identified people, individuals who were sexually assaulted (IRR=3.21, p=0.011) or verbally threatened (IRR=2.42, p=0.021) in the past year had greater HED days than those who did not experience those forms of victimization.
Compared to transgender-identified people, nontransgender-identified males and females: have fewer HED occasions (despite nontransgender-identified males having greater prevalence of HED); and are at lower risk for alcohol-related sexual assaults and suicidal ideation. Experiences of sexual assault and verbal threats are associated with greater HED occasions for transgender-identified people.
PMCID: PMC4536098  PMID: 26210734
Transgender; alcohol use; heavy episodic drinking; alcohol-related problems; violence
2.  Associations between LGBTQ-Affirmative School Climate and Adolescent Drinking Behaviors 
Drug and alcohol dependence  2016;161:340-347.
We investigated whether adolescents drank alcohol less frequently if they lived in jurisdictions with school climates that were more affirmative of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals.
Data from the 2010 School Health Profile survey, which measured LGBTQ school climate (e.g., percentage of schools with safe spaces and gay-straight alliances), were linked with pooled data from the 2005 and 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which measured sexual orientation identity, demographics, and alcohol use (number of drinking days, drinking days at school, and heavy episodic drinking days) in 8 jurisdictions. Two-level Poisson models tested the associations between school climate and alcohol use for each sexual-orientation subgroup.
Living in jurisdictions with more (versus less) affirmative LGBTQ school climates was significantly associated with: fewer heavy episodic drinking days for gay/lesbian (incidence-rate ratio [IRR]=0.70; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.56, 0.87; p=0.001) and heterosexual (IRR=0.80; 95% CI: 0.76, 0.83; p<0.001) adolescents; and fewer drinking days at school for adolescents unsure of their sexual orientation (IRR=0.57; 95% CI: 0.35, 0.93; p=0.024).
Fostering LGBTQ-affirmative school climates may reduce some drinking behaviors for gay/lesbian adolescents, heterosexual adolescents, and adolescents unsure of their sexual orientation.
PMCID: PMC4792759  PMID: 26946989
Adolescents; alcohol use; heavy episodic drinking; sexual orientation; school climate
3.  Evidence of Syndemics and Sexuality-Related Discrimination Among Young Sexual-Minority Women 
LGBT Health  2015;2(3):250-257.
Purpose: Syndemics, or the co-occurrence and interaction of health problems, have been examined extensively among young men who have sex with men, but their existence remain unexamined, to our knowledge, among sexual-minority (i.e., lesbian, gay, and bisexual) women. Thus, we investigated if syndemics were present among young sexual-minority women, and if sexual-orientation discrimination was an independent variable of syndemic production.
Methods: A total of 467 sexual-minority women between the ages of 18 and 24 completed a cross-sectional online survey regarding their substance use, mental health, sexual behaviors, height, weight, and experiences of discrimination. We used structural equation modeling to investigate the presence of syndemics and their relationship to sexual-orientation discrimination.
Results: Heavy episodic drinking, marijuana use, ecstasy use, hallucinogen use, depressive symptoms, multiple sexual partners, and history of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) comprised syndemics in this population (chi-square=24.989, P=.201; comparative fit index [CFI]=0.946; root mean square error of approximation [RMSEA]=0.023). Sexual-orientation discrimination is significantly and positively associated with the latent syndemic variable (unstandardized coefficient=0.095, P<.05), and this model fit the data well (chi-square=33.558, P=.059; CFI=0.914; RMSEA=0.029). The reverse causal model showed syndemics is not an independent variable of sexual-orientation discrimination (unstandardized coefficient=0.602, P>.05).
Conclusions: Syndemics appear to be present and associated with sexual-orientation discrimination among young sexual-minority women. Interventions aimed at reducing discrimination or increasing healthy coping may help reduce substance use, depressive symptoms, and sexual risk behaviors in this population.
PMCID: PMC4712488  PMID: 26788674
depressive symptoms; discrimination; sexual-minority women; sexually transmitted infections; substance use
4.  Sexual-orientation differences in drinking patterns and use of drinking contexts among college students 
Drug and alcohol dependence  2016;160:197-204.
Evidence suggests there are important sexual-orientation differences in alcohol consumption, particularly among women. Little is known about where gay/lesbian and bisexual college students drink or differences in patterns of alcohol use between heterosexual, gay/lesbian, and bisexual students. The goal of this analysis was to examine patterns of alcohol consumption—including drinking prevalence, quantity, frequency, and contexts of use—by sexual orientation.
Data on sexual identity, gender, drinking behaviors, and drinking contexts were examined from repeated cross-sectional samples of undergraduate students attending 14 public California universities from 2003–2011 (n=58,903). Multivariable statistical techniques were employed to examine sexual-orientation differences stratified by gender.
Gay males, lesbians, and bisexual females were significantly more likely to report drinking alcohol in the current semester than their same-gender heterosexual peers (relative risks ranged from 1.07 to 1.10, p-values<0.01). Among current drinkers, bisexual females consumed 7 or more drinks and lesbians consumed 10 or more drinks on significantly more days than heterosexual females. On the other hand, gay male drinkers consumed 8 or more drinks on significantly fewer days than heterosexual male drinkers. Compared to their same-gender heterosexual peers: lesbian/gay and bisexual students drank less frequently at Greek parties (incidence rate ratios [IRRs] ranged from 0.52 to 0.73, p-values<0.01); lesbians (IRR=0.84, p=0.043) and bisexual males (IRR=0.82, p=0.009) drank less frequently at off-campus parties; and gay males drank more frequently outdoors (IRR=1.63, p<0.001) and at bars/restaurants (IRR=1.21, p=0.013).
Alcohol prevention programs and future research should consider sexual-orientation differences in drinking patterns and drinking contexts.
PMCID: PMC4767549  PMID: 26827292
sexual orientation; gender; alcohol use; graduated frequency measures; drinking contexts
5.  Harm reduction principles for healthcare settings 
Harm reduction refers to interventions aimed at reducing the negative effects of health behaviors without necessarily extinguishing the problematic health behaviors completely. The vast majority of the harm reduction literature focuses on the harms of drug use and on specific harm reduction strategies, such as syringe exchange, rather than on the harm reduction philosophy as a whole. Given that a harm reduction approach can address other risk behaviors that often occur alongside drug use and that harm reduction principles have been applied to harms such as sex work, eating disorders, and tobacco use, a natural evolution of the harm reduction philosophy is to extend it to other health risk behaviors and to a broader healthcare audience.
Building on the extant literature, we used data from in-depth qualitative interviews with 23 patients and 17 staff members from an HIV clinic in the USA to describe harm reduction principles for use in healthcare settings.
We defined six principles of harm reduction and generalized them for use in healthcare settings with patients beyond those who use illicit substances. The principles include humanism, pragmatism, individualism, autonomy, incrementalism, and accountability without termination. For each of these principles, we present a definition, a description of how healthcare providers can deliver interventions informed by the principle, and examples of how each principle may be applied in the healthcare setting.
This paper is one of the firsts to provide a comprehensive set of principles for universal harm reduction as a conceptual approach for healthcare provision. Applying harm reduction principles in healthcare settings may improve clinical care outcomes given that the quality of the provider-patient relationship is known to impact health outcomes and treatment adherence. Harm reduction can be a universal precaution applied to all individuals regardless of their disclosure of negative health behaviors, given that health behaviors are not binary or linear but operate along a continuum based on a variety of individual and social determinants.
PMCID: PMC5655864  PMID: 29065896
6.  Running Backwards: Consequences of Current HIV Incidence Rates for the Next Generation of Black MSM in the United States 
AIDS and behavior  2016;20(1):7-16.
Black men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States are disproportionately impacted by HIV. To better understand this public health problem, we reviewed the literature to calculate an estimate of HIV incidence among Black MSM. We used this rate to model HIV prevalence over time within a simulated cohort, which we subsequently compared to prevalence from community-based samples. We searched all databases accessible through PubMed, and Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections abstracts for HIV incidence estimates among Black MSM. Summary HIV incidence rates and 95 % confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using random effects models. Using the average incidence rate, we modeled HIV prevalence within a simulated cohort of Black MSM (who were all HIV-negative at the start) from ages 18 through 40. Based on five incidence rates totaling 2898 Black MSM, the weighted mean incidence was 4.16 % per year (95 % CI 2.76–5.56). Using this annual incidence rate, our model predicted that 39.94 % of Black MSM within the simulated cohort would be HIV-positive by age 30, and 60.73 % by 40. Projections were similar to HIV prevalence found in community-based samples of Black MSM. High HIV prevalence will persist across the life-course among Black MSM, unless effective prevention and treatment efforts are increased to substantially reduce HIV transmission among this underserved and marginalized population.
PMCID: PMC4718884  PMID: 26267251
HIV/AIDS; Black MSM; Epidemiology; Prevention; HIV incidence; HIV prevalence

Results 1-6 (6)