Week 3: Science and Surveys

Apr 16, 2019

When I arrived to start my third week off campus, my advisor informed me that project staff is currently undergoing the finalization of the Phase 2 surveys that will be electronically administered to our pool of participants once recruitment begins, only after a few minor tweaks in the questions are done.

One aspect of the survey that we have tirelessly worked to perfect is the coding, particularly for the Split Survey Questions (SSQs). SSQs are a series of questions that are given to the respondent based on their previously answered question(s). For example, our survey requires the respondent to indicate their gender, and depending on their answer, they are required to answer a separate set of questions. If a respondent answers male, our survey will then ask a series of questions that only apply to males and vice versa. This is essential for our study because it helps us conduct separate data analysis once data collection begins, comparing and contrasting participants within different genders, age groups, health statuses, and more.

On Monday, I resumed my research from last week, which included me looking into some of the HIV prevention and intervention programs/institutions  for young minorities that already exist. More specifically, I researched the overall effectiveness of those programs. For instance, although many programs promote healthy romantic relationships among couples regarding their reproductive health, one trend I found suggested that many programs often include HIV prevention components that are fairly expensive for young people. This contributes to a common narrative in the scientific community which has also emphasized that the lack of insurance coverage and financial stability have played key roles in preventing young minorities from developing preventative behaviors against  STDs/STIs and unintended pregnancies.

Throughout Tuesday and Thursday, I continued my research pertaining to the effectiveness of existing HIV prevention/intervention programs while also working on an assignment given to me by the PI. She suggested that I conduct a literature review on accessibility and effectiveness of HIV combination prevention methods among young minorities. HIV combination prevention methods has been noted by many studies as one of the more effective prevention strategies which consists of the usage of more than one biomedical or behavioral HIV prevention method at the same time. This can include the use of condoms along with PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), or consistent HIV testing along with counseling. Similar to my research on HIV prevention intervention programs for youth, finances once again appeared as a key barrier that prevents youth from accessing more effective HIV prevention methods compared to their older, more mature counterparts.

Although it was a challenge finding scholarly articles that discussed experiments on HIV combination methods among young minorities due to its low accessibility to the demographic, I was able to draw enough conclusions to identify more holes in the relationship between sexual health and young minorities that Project YESS aims to fill. The next upcoming weeks should be exciting as my PI hinted that I will help participate in the finalization of our Phase 2 Surveys to prepare for future data collection.

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