Hello, my name is Ryah A.,
For my Senior Project, I am going analyze the sociological susceptibilities young minorities have toward HIV infection, particularly Black and Latino/a youth. The sociological risks that my project will be evaluating include race, age, economic status, educational status, and more. During my time spent off school campus, I will be attending NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and Biomedical Engineering to work as an intern at Project YESS (Youth Engaging in Healthy and Safe Sex). Project YESS is a study that aims to promote health and prevent disease among Black and Latino youth aging from 16 to 24 years of age, specifically focusing on reducing the risk of HIV/STIs and unintended pregnancies that aims to establish an effective intervention program to promote healthy romantic relationships and protective sexual behaviors among adolescents.
Although I discovered my passion for biology and my fascination for HIV in my sophomore year of high school, I believed that in order to fully evaluate the impact the illness has on individuals I not only had to analyze the medical perspective of HIV, but also the sociological perspective. This prompted me to intern with Project YESS in the summer of 2018, where my interest in public health peaked. During my time there, I had the opportunity to talk to people my age, and noticed a general lack of knowledge on the importance of sexual health and safety for reproductive behaviors. It was there that I also noticed the need for more accessible disease prevention programs and information networks for young minorities.
While working with Project YESS once again, I plan on exploring this issue by evaluating responses from surveys, focus groups, and interviews that discuss the sexual and romantic histories, which are submitted by participants. By analyzing these data, I can help identify any sociological factors that act as potential influencers on the sexual decision-making of adolescents. Additionally, I will also assist in the recruitment process for Project YESS, finding places in our targeted areas of study which include South Bronx and Upper Manhattan that are considered to hold many potential participants. These include local recreational centers, stores, youth organizations, schools, etc. With project staff, I will participate in our occasional, walkthroughs to visit these sites and talk to potential participants about sexual health and work with faculty members in the sites to encourage the youth to take part in Project YESS.
In addition to working with Project YESS, I will undergo my own independent research, analyzing the scientific literature from other studies that are similar to Project YESS in order to gain a full understanding of the sexual histories of young minorities. I also aim to use empirical literature as a guideline during my time working with Project YESS. Considering that not many studies that focus on sexual health promotion among youth recruit minors, I believe that by working with Project YESS, one of the few studies that does, I will be able to bring the topic of sexual health among minors to attention. Additionally, I hope that during my research experience I can propose potential strategies to creating a developmentally-appropriate, culturally tailored intervention program for young minorities.