Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Sexual Health, University of Michigan / 31.12.2016 Interview with: Halley Crissman, MD, MPH University of Michigan Resident Physician Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There has been very little data on the epidemiology of the transgender population in the U.S., including basic information regarding the proportion of adults that identify as transgender. Transgender is an identity term for individuals whose gender expression and gender identity does not align with culture expectations and gender norms associated with sex assigned at birth. Our study used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to estimate the demographic characteristics of the U.S. adult transgender population compared to the non-transgender population. We found that 0.53% of U.S. adults identified as transgender. Transgender individuals were more likely to be non-white and below the poverty line, were less likely to attend college, and were as likely to be married, living in a rural area, and employed, compared to non-transgender individuals. (more…)
Author Interviews, Sexual Health / 21.09.2016 Interview with: Professor Andrea Fagiolini, MD University of Siena Italy What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We have tested sexual and physiological responses to bright light and found that regular, early-morning, use of a light box – the same that we used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder - led both to increased testosterone levels and greater reported levels of sexual satisfaction in man with difficulty with sexual desire or with sexual arousal. We recruited 38 men who had been attending the Urology Department of the University of Siena and had a diagnosis of hypoactive sexual desire disorder or sexual arousal disorder – both conditions which are characterised by a lack of interest in sex. The 38 subjects were then divided the men into two groups. One group received regular treatment with a light box whereas the control (placebo) group was treated via a light box which had been adapted to give out significantly less light. Both groups were treated early in the morning, with treatment lasting half an hour per day. After two weeks of treatment or placebo, we found fairly significant differences between those who received the active light treatment and the controls. Before treatment, both groups averaged a sexual satisfaction score of around 2 out of 10, but after treatment the group exposed to the bright light was scoring sexual satisfaction scores of around 6.3 – a more than 3-fold increase on the scale we used. In contrast, the control group only showed an average score of around 2.7 after treatment. Also, we found that testosterone levels increased in men who had been given active light treatment. The average testosterone levels in the control group showed no significant change over the course of the treatment – it was around 2.3 ng/ml at both the beginning and the end of the experiment. However, the group given active treatment showed an increase from around 2.1 ng/ml to 3.6 ng/ml after two weeks. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, CDC, Education, Sexual Health / 27.08.2016 Interview with: Laura Kann, Ph.D. Chief of the School-Based Surveillance Branch Division of Adolescent and School Health CDC What is the background for this study? Response: CDC has been using the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) to collect data on the sexual identity of high school students at the state and local levels and on the prevalence of health risk behaviors among gay, lesbian, and bisexual students for many years. Starting with the 2015 YRBS cycle, we had enough support to add questions to the national YRBS to provide the first ever nationally representative look at health risk behaviors among these students. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Psychological Science, Sexual Health / 10.08.2016 Interview with: Steven Arnocky, PhD Associate Professor Department of Psychology Nipissing University North Bay, ON CAN What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our work was based on previous findings from hunter-gatherer populations showing that men who hunt and share meat often enjoy greater reproductive access to women.  Research in North America has shown that individuals prefer altruistic partners, especially for long-term mating, and that there may be a sex difference in these preferences such that women exhibit this preference more strongly than men. In line with this, some research has shown that men will sometimes compete with other men in order to make charitable donations to attractive female fundraisers (termed 'competitive altruism'). Taken together, these findings led us to hypothesise that individuals (and perhaps particularly men) who behave altruistically might experience greater mating success. In Study 1, undergraduate men and women completed a self-report altruism questionnaire (items such as “I have donated blood”), a personality measure, and a sexual history survey. We found that participants who scored higher on a self-report altruism measure reported they were more desirable to the opposite sex, as well as reported having more sex partners, more casual sex partners, and having sex more often within relationships. Moreover, altruism mattered more for men’s number of lifetime and casual sex partners relative to women’s. Given the possibility that in any survey research, there is a chance individual’s may report their altruism of sexual history in what they view to be a more positive light (who doesn’t want to think of themselves as altruistic!), in Study 2, we used a behavioral measure of altruism (each participant was entered onto a draw for $100, and at the end of the survey was given the choice to keep their winnings or to donate to a charity). Participants again reported on their sexual histories, as well as completed a personality measure, a scale to capture socially-desirable responding, and a measure of narcissism. Results showed that even when controlling for these potentially confounding variables, that altruists reported having more lifetime sex partners, more casual sex partners, and more sex partners over the past year. Men who were willing to donate also reported having more lifetime dating partners. (more…)
Author Interviews, Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Endocrinology, Sexual Health, Testosterone / 01.07.2016 Interview with: Glenn Cunningham, MD Departments of Medicine and Molecular and Cellular Biology Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism Baylor College of Medicine and Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center Houston, Texas 77030 What is the background for this study? Response: The Testosterone Trials are a coordinated set of seven trials to determine the efficacy of testosterone in symptomatic men ≥65 years with unequivocally low testosterone levels. Previous studies in older men have been limited and the results have been conflicting. Initial results of the Sexual Function Trial showed that testosterone improved sexual activity, sexual desire and erectile function. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, JAMA, OBGYNE, Sexual Health, Social Issues, UCSF / 29.06.2016 Interview with: Tami Rowen MD MS Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences UCSF What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study sought to answer the question of which women are engaging in genital grooming and understand their motivations. Prior studies have been limited by geography and age thus our goal was to provide a nationally representative sample of women. (more…)
Author Interviews, Sexual Health, Social Issues / 26.04.2016 Interview with: Lindsey Hicks Doctoral Student Social Psychology Florida State University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: My colleagues and I are very interested in the factors that differentially predict peoples’ self-reported relationship satisfaction and their gut-level feelings about their partners—the spontaneous feelings they have and may not articulate. Because explicit self-reports require conscious deliberation they are subject to the influence of biases and beliefs about relationships; gut-level, automatic attitudes do not require conscious deliberation and thus appear to better track actual experience. With that in mind, we examined whether sexual frequency influences automatic but not explicit evaluations of the partner. Previous research has yielded inconsistent results regarding the influence of sexual frequency on relationship satisfaction, and we thought such inconsistencies may stem from the influence of deliberate reasoning and biased beliefs regarding the sometimes taboo topic of sex. Thus, we tested the association between partners’ sexual frequency and their gut-level feelings about each other. Basically we found that the frequency with which couples have sex has no influence on whether or not they report being happy with their relationship, but their sexual frequency does influence their more spontaneous, automatic, gut-level feelings about their partners. This is particularly important in light of previous research done by my colleagues demonstrating that it these automatic attitudes ultimately predict whether or not they’ll end up becoming dissatisfied with their relationship. (more…)
Author Interviews, Sexual Health / 04.04.2016 Interview with: Nick G. Sitchon, CEO S1 Biopharma Mr. Sitchon discusses the S1 Biopharma  drug under development for hypoactive sexual desire disorder, Lorexys: What is the background for hypoactive sexual desire disorder? How common is this condition? Mr. Sitchon: Hypoactive sexual desire disorder affects more than 12 million women and 8 million men in the US alone, yet it is widely misunderstood and often misdiagnosed and undertreated. It is characterized by low sexual desire that causes significant personal distress or interpersonal difficulty. It is important to note that HSDD is not a physical disorder, such as erectile dysfunction (ED) or pain during intercourse. What is Lorexys and how might it work in HSDD therapy? Mr. Sitchon: Lorexys is our lead product in development for the treatment of HSDD in women. It is an oral, non-hormonal, fixed-dose combination of two antidepressants: bupropion and trazodone. It is formulated with a ratio that is precisely balanced to neutralize the side effects of its individual components and maximize efficacy. When taken together, bupropion and trazodone modulate the neurotransmitters NE, DA, and 5HT2 in selective brain areas, ultimately increasing sexual desire. The combination also balances out the effects of each drug to reduce the risk of adverse events. Lorexys recently completed a Phase 2a clinical trial that evaluated its safety, tolerability, and pro-sexual efficacy compared to bupropion, one of its constituent drugs. Clinical trial results found Lorexys to be highly tolerable with minimal side effects, and showed a 38% stronger efficacy than the use of bupropion alone. Trazodone by itself is not expected to have success in treating hypoactive sexual desire disorder. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Gender Differences, JAMA, Sexual Health / 27.03.2016 Interview with: Dr. Sari L. Reisner PhD Research Fellow in the Department of Epidemiology Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Associate Scientific Researcher in the Division of General Pediatrics Boston Children’s Hospital/ Harvard Medical School What are the main findings? Dr. Reisner: Transgender youth—including adolescent and young adult transgender women assigned a male sex at birth who identify as girls, women, transgender women, transfemale, male-to-female, or another diverse gender identity on the transfeminine spectrum—represent a vulnerable population at-risk for negative mental health and substance use/abuse outcomes. Although community surveys of transgender people in the United States have found a high prevalence of depression, anxiety, and substance use relative to the general adult U.S. population, studies typically utilize screening instruments or sub-threshold symptom questions and do not use diagnostic interviews. Diagnostic interview data are scarce among young transgender women; such data are important to establish guidelines for diagnosis and treatment for this youth group given their complex life experiences. The aim of this study was to report the prevalence of mental health, substance dependence, and co-morbid psychiatric disorders assessed via a diagnostic interview in an at-risk community-recruited sample of young transgender women. This observational study reported baseline finding from a diverse sample of 298 sexually active, young transgender women ages 16-29 years (mean age 23.4; 49.0% Black, 12.4% Latina, 25.5% White, 13.1% other minority race/ethnicity) enrolled in Project LifeSkills, an ongoing randomized controlled HIV prevention intervention efficacy trial in Chicago and Boston, between 2012-2015 (NIMH-funded, multiple PIs: Rob Garofalo, MD, MPH & Matthew Mimiaga, ScD, MPH). (more…)
Author Interviews, HPV, JAMA, OBGYNE, Sexual Health, UCSD / 24.03.2016 Interview with: Ryan K. Orosco, MD Division of Head and Neck Surgery Department of Surgery University of California, San Diego What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Orosco: Our group at UC San Diego is interested in HPV as it relates to diseases of the head and neck.  HPV is a well-publicized cause of cervical cancer, and awareness about its link to throat (oropharynx) cancer is rapidly increasing. Less well-known, is the relationship between HPV and benign (non-cancerous) diseases such as genital warts and papilloma of the throat.  As we strive to understand how to best care for patients with HPV-related disorders, it is important to understand the entire process of disease progression, which begins with HPV infection. Our group wanted to explore the relationship between HPV infection in the two most commonly infected body sites: oral and vaginal. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Sexual Health / 29.02.2016 Interview with: Loes Jaspers MD, PhD scientist Dept. of Epidemiology Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, the Netherlands Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Jaspers: In August 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved flibanserin as a medical treatment for women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). The approval was accompanied by considerable attention in the media. Some people were positive about the approval, while others questioned whether benefits outweigh the risks. That is why we systematically reviewed eight clinical trials (five published and three unpublished) that included 5,914 women to examine the efficacy and safety of the medication for treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder. We found that women taking flibanserin experienced one-half additional satisfying sexual event per month, and that they experienced 2-4 times more side-effects, such as dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, and tiredness, compared to placebo. The overall improvement that women reported while taking the drug was low. It ranged from ‘minimal improvement’ to ‘no change’. The quality of the evidence was graded using established and transparent guidelines, the Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach (GRADE), which have been adopted by leading scientific organizations globally. Although the studies reviewed were randomized clinical trials, the quality of the evidence was very low, particularly because of limitations in design, the indirectness of evidence, and more favorable efficacy outcomes in published compared with unpublished studies. (more…)
Author Interviews, Sexual Health, Social Issues / 12.02.2016 Interview with: Andrea K. Knittel, MD, PhD PGY-3, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences University of California, San Francisco Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Knittel: The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, and many studies have shown that involvement in the criminal justice system may be a risk factor for HIV/AIDS or other STDs. For example, some studies have found that in areas with high rates of incarceration, rates of STDs are higher, and others have shown that incarcerated individuals are more likely to have higher rates of concurrent sexual partnerships and a greater number of sexual partners. This may happen because of increased rates of partnership dissolution due to physical and emotional distance, as well as a desire on the part of formerly incarcerated men for an increased number of sexual partners to “make up for lost time,” which some studies have suggested. In addition, the female partners of incarcerated men may rely on other relationships, including new sexual partners, for emotional and financial support while their partners are incarcerated, whether their relationships end permanently or temporarily or they maintain their relationships through visits and calls. Very few studies have been able to look at community level effects of incarceration, however, because it is difficult to gather data at this level. This study uses an agent-based model, a computational approach that provide a closed system in which to test hypotheses. An agent-based model is a computer simulation that creates a small community (250 “agents” or simulated people) in which the agents can date and have sexual relationships. The model used in this paper has been shown previously to be similar to young people in the US. The experiment in this study was to run the model without incarceration and see how many partners men and women in the community had, and then add incarceration into the model and see what happened. Based on data from other studies, when men in the model were incarcerated they had a slightly higher risk of ending a relationship and became slightly less desirable as partners. (more…)
Abuse and Neglect, Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, Sexual Health / 27.12.2015 Interview with: Anna Austin, MPH PhD Student UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Several studies have examined experiences of childhood abuse among individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB), but there has been relatively little research exploring experiences of other types of childhood trauma, like witnessing domestic violence between parents or growing up with a parent who is an alcoholic, among LGB individuals. We know from the study on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) conducted by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the greater number of childhood traumas and adversities an individual experiences, the greater the risk for poor health later in life. There have also been a number of studies that have demonstrated health disparities by sexual orientation, with LGB adults typically having worse health than heterosexual adults. We were interested in the role that multiple types of adverse childhood experiences play in the development of poor adult health outcomes among LGB individuals. In this study, we captured 8 categories of ACEs. We captured 3 categories of childhood abuse (sexual, physical, and emotional abuse) and 5 categories of household dysfunction (adult mental illness, substance abuse, and domestic violence in the household; incarceration of a household member; and parental divorce or separation). LGB adults were more likely to report each of these 8 categories of ACEs than heterosexuals, with the largest differences found for sexual abuse, adult mental illness in the household, and incarceration of a household member. LGB adults were also more likely to report having experienced multiple ACEs. Forty-two percent of LGB adults compared to 24 percent of heterosexual adults reported having experienced between 3 to 8 ACEs. We also found that LGB adults were more likely to report poor adult health like smoking, HIV risk behaviors, 14 or more days of poor physical or mental health in the past 30 days, asthma, depression, and disability than heterosexuals. However, after we accounted for the number of ACEs each individual reported, LGB adults were no longer more likely to report smoking, binge drinking, and 14 or more days of poor physical health in the past 30 days. (more…)
Author Interviews, HPV, Infections, Pediatrics, Sexual Health / 23.12.2015 Interview with: Seo Yoon Lee, RN Department of Health Policy and Management Graduate School of Public Health Eun-Cheol Park MD, PhD Institute of Health Services Research Department of Preventive Medicine Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are a major public health issue which causes acute illness, infertility, long-term disability or other serious medical and psychological consequences, around the world. Adolescence is a key developmental period with rapid cognitive growth. In recent decades, substantial change in the sexual behaviors and attitudes of adolescents has occurred and this would lead them greater risk of STIs than other. Our study looked at the relationship between adolescents’ first sexual intercourse age and their STI experience, as well as to identify vulnerable time table of their sexual activity by considering the time gap between their secondary sex characteristic occurrence age and first sexual intercourse age. The findings from our study show that earlier initiation of sexual intercourse increases the odds of experiencing STIs. Also as the age gap gets shorter, the odds of experiencing STIs increase. Approximately 7.4% of boys and 7.5% of girls reported had STI. For both boys and girls, the chance of experiencing STIs increased as the age of first sexual intercourse decreased [boys: before elementary school (age 7 or under) OR=10.81, first grade (age 7or 8) OR=4.44, second grade (age 8 or 9) OR=8.90, fourth grade (age 10 or 11) OR=7.20, ninth grade (age 15 or 16) OR=2.31; girls: before elementary school OR=18.09, first grade OR=7.26, second grade OR=7.12, fourth grade OR=8.93, ninth grade OR=2.74]. The association between the absolute age gap (AAG: defined as absolute value of “Age gap” = [Age at first sexual intercourse] - [age of secondary sexual manifest]) and STI experience was examined additionally which the result showed, students who had sexual intercourse after their secondary sexual manifestation, as the AAG increases, the odds of STI experience were decreased (boys OR=0.93, girls OR=0.87). (more…)
Author Interviews, Sexual Health / 15.12.2015 Interview with: Lee Ellis PhD Department of Anthropology University of Malaya Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Ellis: Sexual orientation appears to be highly influenced by prenatal neurohormonal factors (as opposed to social experiences throughout life).  However, the specifics continue to elude scientific comprehension.  Over the past two decades, researchers began to explore the possibility that a putative measure of prenatal testosterone exposure, called the 2D:4D finger length ratio, might be predictive of variations in sexual orientation.  The results have been mixed.  In the present study, colleagues and I obtained multiple measures of prenatal testosterone exposure (including a 2D:4D measure) from large samples of college students in two countries and factor analyzed these measures.  Analyses revealed two apparent prenatal testosterone exposure variables, one largely pertaining to bone growth (that included our 2D:4D measure), and the other mainly pertaining to muscular growth and coordination.  It was this second factor, not the first one, that appeared to be mainly responsible for variations in sexual orientation. (more…)
Author Interviews, Psychological Science, Sexual Health / 04.12.2015 Interview with: Tess M. Gemberling, M.A. Social Psychology Ph.D. Student Co-Principal Investigator University of Alabama Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Many stereotypes of BDSM (bondage and discipline [B&D], dominance and submission [D/s], sadomasochism [SM],) that can be seen on websites similar to fucked gay xxx, exist; however, research with practitioners suggests these stereotypes are largely unfounded. Preliminary evidence implies BDSM practitioners are psychologically healthy individuals. This study was conducted to further evaluate these results. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: Along with other findings, the majority of results indicates practitioners are well functioning. Overall, participants are healthy in the mental, emotional, and interpersonal aspects of their lives. In addition, practitioners are often victims of violence but are not perpetrators of violence. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Sexual Health / 12.09.2015 Interview with: Binbin Wang, PhD Center for Genetics, National Research Institute for Family Planning Beijing China Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr.Wang:Homosexuality has become an important issue all around the world, as well as in China. Beside of the human right problems it poses, the reality that more and more HIV cases are infected through homosexual activity,especially men who have sex with men (MSM), should be concerned. People are wondering how homosexuality develops. As a genetic researcher, I'd like to find the answers in the field of genetics. This study is based on previous evidence that genes may have impact on homosexuality. Besides, animal models have provided clues that abnormality in some neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, may alter the sex behavior of animals. Therefore, we choose COMT (the gene catechol-O-methyltransferase) as the target, which is important for the synthesis of dopamine. We find that an amino acid residue change in COMT could increase the risk of developing male homosexuality. Our results provide some evidence that male homosexuality is connected with genes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Sexual Health / 10.09.2015

Emmanuele A. Jannini, MD Chair of Endocrinology and Medical Sexology Department of Systems Medicine Tor Vergata University of Rome Roma, Interview with: Emmanuele A. Jannini, MD Chair of Endocrinology and Medical Sexology Department of Systems Medicine Tor Vergata University of Rome Roma, Italy Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Prof. Jannini: The background is due to the large experience of the researcher of my team, Dr. Giacomo Ciocca, on homophobia, a largely diffuse phenomenon in various forms. Although many social and cultural factors predispose to homophobic attitude, we have hypothesized that some psychological aspects of personality were in association with homophobia. Therefore, we found that psychoticism, a dysfunctional trait of thought, immature defense mechanisms, i.e., primitive responses to anxiety states, and a fearful model of relationship with other due to an insecure attachment style, could be considered risk factors for homophobic attitude. (more…)
Author Interviews, HIV, Lancet, Sexual Health / 10.09.2015 Interview with: Professor Sheena McCormack Clinical Epidemiology Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit University College London Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Prof. McCormack: PROUD is the first study of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV carried out in the UK. The results show that PrEP could play a major role in reducing the number of new infections among men who have sex with men who are at risk of catching HIV. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a HIV prevention strategy that involves HIV-negative people taking some of the drugs we use for treatment of HIV to reduce the risk of becoming infected. The PROUD study ( looked at whether offering daily PrEP to men who have sex with men was an effective way to prevent HIV infection. The results show that pre-exposure prophylaxis is highly protective, reducing the risk of infection for this group by 86%. The drug used in the trial – the antiretroviral Truvada – was already known to reduce the incidence of HIV infection compared to placebo (a dummy pill).  The PROUD study was designed to see how good Truvada would be found as pre-exposure prophylaxis in a real world situation when participants knew they were taking an active drug.  It aimed to address outstanding questions such as whether taking PrEP would change sexual risk behaviour – for example increasing the number of partners they did not use condoms with and increasing the rate of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – and whether or not it would be cost-effective to make it available on the NHS. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, Sexual Health / 31.08.2015

Shannon K. Barth MPH Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Public Health, Post Deployment Health Epidemiology Program Washington, District of Interview with: Shannon K. Barth MPH Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Public Health, Post Deployment Health Epidemiology Program Washington, District of Columbia Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: This study used data from the “National Health Study for a New Generation of U.S. Veterans,” a population-based health study of 20,563 Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom Veterans and their non-deployed counterparts, conducted in 2009-2011.  A two-question measure of sexual harassment and sexual assault based on an existing clinical screen used by Veterans Health Administration (VHA) providers was included on the survey. Consistent with use in clinical settings, a veteran was considered to have experienced MST if they responded affirmatively to either of the two questions. While estimates of the prevalence of MST based on the clinical screener are available, these estimates only provide information about veterans who use VHA services and may not generalize to the broader OEF/OIF veteran population. This new survey provides a unique opportunity to assess MST experiences among a representative sample of OEF/OIF veterans in a confidential setting. Additionally, we were able to assess responses to the sexual harassment and sexual assault questions separately and collectively. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: The main findings from our study are that 41% of women and 4% of men reported experiencing MST. Veterans who reported using VHA services had a higher risk of MST compared to those who didn’t receive VHA services. The relationship between deployment to OEF/OIF and experiencing MST differed between men and women. Combat-exposed veterans had greater risk of reporting MST compared to those not exposed to combat, while controlling for deployment status. Among women, approximately 10% reported experiencing sexual assault. In contrast, 0.5% of male participants reported experiencing sexual assault. (more…)
Author Interviews, Sexual Health / 26.08.2015

Elizabeth Aura McClintock PhD Assistant Professor Department of Sociology University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN Interview with: Elizabeth Aura McClintock PhD Assistant Professor Department of Sociology University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN 46556 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. McClintock: Sexual identity is a social construct that emerged in the late nineteenth century. People have always engaged in homosexual and heterosexual behavior, but we have not always had the concept of homosexual and heterosexual as types of personal identities. That is not to say that sexual desire or sexual preference does not have biological origins, but the concept of sexual identity and the specific labels that we use (gay, straight, bi-curious, etc.) are fundamentally social in origins. Given that sexual identity is a social construct, social context should influence it. By social context I mean socioeconomic position, social networks, romantic status and experience, and family, among other factors. As a parallel example, researchers have recently shown that racial identification depends on context--a person may be perceived differently and self-identify differently depending as their social context changes. Extant research on sexual identity, however, largely ignores social context. My goal was to begin to fill this gap. I found that several aspects of social context, including class background, educational attainment, race, and timing of childbirth, are associated with sexual identity. Indeed, context is associated with sexual identity net of sexual attraction. Perhaps because women have more flexible sexual attractions (they are more likely than men to report attraction to both sexes), social context has a larger effect on women's sexual identity. (more…)
Author Interviews, Social Issues / 19.08.2015

Carlota Batres PhD Candidate at the Perception Lab School of Psychology and Neuroscience University of St Andrews Interview with: Carlota Batres PhD Candidate at the Perception Lab School of Psychology and Neuroscience University of St Andrews   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:  Dominance in men is associated with a variety of social outcomes, ranging from high rank attainment of cadets in the military to high levels of sexual activity in teenage boys. Dominant men are also favored as leaders during times of intergroup conflict and are more successful leaders in the business world. Therefore, we wanted to investigate what exactly it is that makes a face look dominant. Our main finding was that maximum dominance was achieved by increasing perceived height and masculinity while maintaining a man's age at around 35 years. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, HIV, Sexual Health / 06.08.2015

Adaora Adimora, MD, MPH Chair of the HIV Medicine Association Professor of Medicine School of Medicine University of North Carolina, Chapel Interview with: Adaora Adimora, MD, MPH Chair of the HIV Medicine Association Professor of Medicine School of Medicine University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. MedicalResearch: What is the current scope of the HIV epidemic? Dr. Adimora: The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S. Nearly 13% are undiagnosed and unaware of their status. Men who have sex with men represented 54% of all people living with HIV in 2011. While new infection rates are stable, a majority of new infections (63%) are occurring among men who have sex with men. We have seen alarming increases among young black men who have sex with men who account for 55% of new infections among men who have sex with men. New infections among women have decreased slightly but black and Hispanic/Latina women represent 62% and 17% of new infections respectively among women.[i] While there have been decreases in new HIV infections among people who inject drugs in recent years, the serious outbreak largely among injection drug users in Scott County, Indiana identified this past spring[ii] puts us on high alert to improve access to preventive services and substance use treatment, including access to sterile syringes and equipment. My responses will generally focus on the U.S. epidemic but want to acknowledge that globally an estimated 36.9 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2014 with just 51% of them being diagnosed and more than 34 million deaths were attributed to HIV-related causes.[iii] (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Sexual Health / 30.07.2015

Gwendolyn P. Quinn, Ph.D. Moffitt Cancer Center University of South Interview with: Gwendolyn P. Quinn, Ph.D. Moffitt Cancer Center University of South Florida MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Quinn: Our research group has been conducting studies of the LGBTQ community and their healthcare experiences combined with providers knowledge and attitudes about LGBTQ and cancer care. This led us to examine the literature on cancer and LGBTQ. The main findings point to the lack of rigorous data about cancer in the LGBTQ community. Our review revealed that 7 cancers (anal, breast, cervical, colorectal, colon and rectal, endometrial, lung and prostate cancers) may occur more frequently in the community due to elevated prevalence of risk factors and behaviors such as obesity and substance use; however, there are limited data on outcomes, morbidity and mortality. The lack of data makes it difficult for providers to fully inform patients about early detection, prevention, and treatment options and outcomes. Further, the lack of psychosocial data makes it difficult to provide supportive care recommendations and other forms of support (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Psychological Science, Sexual Health, University Texas / 11.07.2015

Amelia Stanton, Graduate Student Department of Psychology The University of Texas at Austin Austin, Interview with: Amelia Stanton, Graduate Student Department of Psychology The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Heart rate variability (HRV) has emerged as a valuable non-invasive test to assess autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity. Several studies have linked low resting Heart rate variability to mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, and alcohol dependence, indicating these disorders may be related to an imbalance in autonomic activity. As Heart rate variability is an index of the balance of sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and parasympathetic nervous system activity (PNS), it has proven a useful tool for examining the relative role of SNS activity in female sexual arousal. Moderate SNS dominance (relative to PNS activity) has been shown to predict women’s genital arousal in the laboratory, while high levels of SNS activation have been shown to inhibit genital arousal. Based on this background evidence and on a growing clinical literature indicating that low HRV (generally indicative of high SNS) is associated with negative health outcomes, we predicted a positive linear relationship between Heart rate variability and sexual arousal function. That is, we predicted that women with autonomic balance indicating moderate or low resting SNS activity (relative to PNS activity) would be less likely than women with autonomic balance indicating high resting SNS to report clinically relevant sexual arousal dysfunction. We also predicted that this relationship would hold for overall sexual function. To test this hypothesis, sexual arousal function, overall sexual function, and resting HRV were assessed in 72 women, aged 18-39. The main finding of the study is that women with below average Heart rate variability were significantly more likely to report sexual arousal dysfunction (p < .001) and overall sexual dysfunction (p < .001) than both women with average HRV and women with above average HRV. Based on these results, we concluded that low HRV may be a risk factor for female sexual arousal dysfunction and overall sexual dysfunction. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Sexual Health, Testosterone / 03.07.2015

Michael S. Irwig MD Division of Endocrinology Medical Faculty Associates George Washington Interview with: Michael S. Irwig MD Division of Endocrinology Medical Faculty Associates George Washington University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Many factors are associated with lower testosterone levels and many men who have their testosterone levels checked have non-specific depressive symptoms. The main finding is a remarkably high rate of depression and depressive symptoms (56%) in men who are referred for borderline testosterone levels. Other significant findings include a prevalence of overweight and obesity higher than the general population. (more…)
Author Interviews, HIV, Sexual Health, UCSD / 05.06.2015 Interview with: Dr. Martin Hoenigl Center for AIDS Research University of California, San Diego Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Hoenigl: Although men who have sex with men (MSM) represent a dominant risk group for human immunodeficiency Virus, the risk of HIV infection within this population is not uniform. Characterizing and identifying the MSM at greatest risk for incident HIV infection might permit more focused delivery of both prevention resources and selection of appropriate interventions, such as intensive counseling, regular HIV screening with methods that detect acute infection (ie, nucleic acid amplification test), and antiretroviral preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP). By using data collected at a single HIV testing encounter from 8326 unique MSM were analyzed, including 200 with AEH (2.4%), we were able to create the San Diego Early Test (SDET) risk score. The SDET score consist of four risk behavior variables which were significantly associated with an AEH diagnosis (ie, incident infection) in multivariable: condomless receptive anal intercourse (CRAI) with an HIV-positive MSM (3 points), the combination of CRAI plus 5 or more male partners (3 points), 10 or more male partners (2 points), and diagnosis of bacterial sexually transmitted infection (2 points), all as reported for the prior 12 months. The SDET risk score is deployed as a freely available tool at (more…)
Author Interviews, HIV, NYU, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Sexual Health / 22.05.2015

Perry N Halkitis, Ph.D., M.S., MPH Professor of Applied Psychology Global Public Health, and Population Health/Medicine New York Interview with: Perry N Halkitis, Ph.D., M.S., MPH Professor of Applied Psychology Global Public Health, and Population Health/Medicine New York University. Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Halkitis: The P18 Cohort Study is a prospective cohort study of gay, bisexual and other young men who have sex with men (YMSM) which seeks to examine the development of health behaviors as these young men transition from adolescent to adulthood. Officially named “Syndemic Production among Emergent Adult Men”, this study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse from 2009-2014 and renewed on March 1, 2014 for an additional five years. The original aims of the study were as follows:
  • 1) to develop and test theoretically informed measurement models of the covariance of illicit drug use, unprotected sexual behavior and mental health burden (multiple overlapping epidemics known as a syndemic) among emergent adult HIV-negative YMSM within and across time;
  • 2) to delineate the risk and protective bases- physical factors (e.g., pubertal onset, HIV status, etc.), relational and structural factors (e.g., family history of psychopathology, current romantic relationships, peer support, neighborhood factors, etc.), and psychosocial factors (e.g., sexual identity, internalized homophobia, hyper-masculine conceptions, etc.) that predict the development of syndemics; and
  • 3) to determine the extent to which the development of a syndemic varies by race/ethnicity, social class, and homelessness/housing instability.
  • In this current five year continuation we also seek
    • 1) to describe the social and sexual networks of YMSM, and to examine the relationship between social and sexual network-level structural characteristics, social support and normative influences on syndemic production (illicit drug use, unprotected sexual behaviors, and mental health burden) in YMSM, singly and in combination with the physical, psychosocial, and relational predictors, both within and across time;
    • 2) to describe the acquisition of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in YMSM, specifically, urethral and rectal gonorrhea and chlamydia, pharyngeal gonorrhea as well as syphilis serology; and to determine the extent to which physical, relational, and psychosocial factors explain STI acquisition as part of the syndemic model within and across time.
    • A third exploratory aim was also added: 3) to describe HIV clinical treatment markers (i.e., HIV viral load, ART uptake and adherence, HIV care) among HIV+ YMSM, and to assess the extent to which physical, relational, and psychosocial factors are associated with differences in these clinical markers among HIV+ YMSM, both within and across time. The study is led by Drs. Perry N Halkitis and Farzana Kapadia at New York University’s Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies.
Potential participants were recruited through both active (e.g., approaching individuals to solicit study participation) and passive (e.g., flyer posting, website advertisements) methods from June 2009 to May 2011. Eligibility criteria included being 18-19 years old, biologically male, residing in the NYC metropolitan area, having sex (any physical contact that could lead to orgasm) with a man in the last 6 months, and reporting a seronegative or unknown HIV status at baseline. We ensured the diversity of our sample by setting a fixed recruitment quota for participants in each targeted racial/ethnic group, such that African Americans, Latino (across race), Asian-Pacific Islander (API), and mixed race men comprised the majority of the sample. All participants provided written, informed consent before data was collected and were compensated for their time and effort upon completing the baseline assessment. The New York University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved all study protocols and a federal Certificate of Confidentiality protects these data. A total of 2,068 participants were screened for eligibility to participate in the study, and 600 participants completed the baseline assessment in the first wave of the study. In 2014, we began the second wave and opened to cohort to recruit a baseline sample of 650 YMSM who will now be between the ages of 22-23; recruitment of participants is still underway. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Halkitis: Numerous publications have been generated from the P18 Cohort Study and can be accessed at  A recent publication, “Incidence of HIV infection in Young Gay, Bisexual, and other YMSM: The P18 Cohort Study” became available in the May 2015 of JAIDS, the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. This paper reports that over a 36 month follow-up period, during the first wave of the study, 7.2% of study participants seroconverted, with Black and Hispanic men much more likely to seroconvert over this time frame than White men. This finding aligns with epidemiological trends for HIV infection at the national and local, NYC, levels. Also, men reporting a lower familial socioeconomic status were more likely to seroconvert than men reporting high familial socioeconomic status, and Black men were more likely to report a lower socioeconomic status.  Moreover, the Black young men who seroconverted were more likely to reside in neighborhoods with higher area-level poverty and higher area-level HIV prevalence. Additionally we found that men who reported anal sex without a condom in the 30 days prior to assessment were no more likely to seroconvert than those who reported sex with a condom.  However, an earlier age of sexual debut was a predictor of HIV seroconversion. (more…)
Author Interviews, Sexual Health, Sleep Disorders, University of Michigan / 24.03.2015

David A Kalmbach, PhD Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory Department of Psychiatry University of Michigan Medical School Interview with: David A Kalmbach, PhD Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory Department of Psychiatry University of Michigan Medical School Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Kalmbach: As it happens, my research background is in sexual health, and my clinical work is in behavioral sleep medicine. Therefore, I've long been interested in the intersection between sleep and sexual response, though there has been little research in this area. With the growing recognition of a wide range of morbidities associated with poor sleep, coupled with the multifactorial etiology of sexual dysfunctions, I wanted to investigate whether sleep disturbance was associated with poorer sexual response. Using a 2-week daily diary approach in a sample of 171 young women, we found that longer reported sleep duration led to greater sexual desire the next day. This relationship was mirrored by finding that the likelihood of partnered sexual activity was increased following nights during which women slept longer. We also found an association between genital arousal and sleep length, though this relationship was more complex. Women reported greater vaginal arousal during sexual activity following nights of shorter sleep. However, women who slept longer on average reported better vaginal arousal than women who obtained less sleep on average. This dual relationship may reflect differential effects of a single night of sleep deprivations versus chronic sleep deprivation. However, I think more research is needed to delineate the underlying mechanisms of these relationships. Even so, I think it is notable that daytime sequelae of poor sleep (e.g., mood changes, fatigue) did not account for the relationships between sleep and sexual response. (more…)