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Sexual Risk Behavior Among Homeless Men

Sexual Risk Behavior Among Homeless Men
Social work professor Suzanne Wenzel will lead the study.

USC School of Social Work professor Suzanne Wenzel has received nearly $2 million in federal stimulus money to help understand the sexual risk behavior of homeless men and their attitudes toward women in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS continues to be a critical public health problem, and men’s heterosexual behavior plays a key role in the epidemic, Wenzel said.

Over the next two years, she will receive $1.97 million from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development for a study of heterosexual HIV risk behavior among homeless men in Los Angeles.

Among women with HIV/AIDS, 83 percent are infected through sex with men. Therefore, Wenzel said, it is important to understand the sexual risk behaviors and attitudes of men who have sex with women.

Wenzel chose to focus on homeless men because they are at higher risk of infection than many other male populations and are a highly disadvantaged population.

“Our study will move the field forward by shedding light on heterosexual HIV risk factors in a population that is among the most vulnerable and stigmatized in the United States and that has suffered from a dearth of attention from the scientific community,” Wenzel said.

In the study, Wenzel and her team will examine how the social context surrounding homeless men may impact their attitudes toward women and their willingness to engage in protective versus risky behaviors with women. Researchers also will look at their attitudes and beliefs about HIV/AIDS and how those influence men’s sexual behavior with women.

In the process of conducting this study, Wenzel is collaborating with multiple agencies in the community that homeless men frequent.

Study results will inform future research and interventions to reduce HIV/AIDS among homeless men and the women who are their partners.

Sexual Risk Behavior Among Homeless Men

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