PhD Student Sabrina Cluesman and 2020 PhD Graduate Lauren Jessell Receive APHA Honors
NYU Silver’s PhD Program was well represented at the sectional awards ceremonies at the American Public Health Association (APHA) 2020 Annual Meeting and Expo. Second-year PhD student Sabrina Cluesman, MSW, LCSW, received the APHA HIV/AIDS Section’s David Rosenstein Award for Best Student Abstract and 2020 graduate Lauren Jessell, PhD, received the APHA Public Health Social Work Section’s Public Health Social Work Student Award.
Sabrina’s award-winning abstract, “Stopping, starting, and sustaining HIV antiretroviral therapy: A mixed methods retrospective exploration among long-term survivors of HIV in high-risk contexts,” shares findings from the NIH-funded Heart to Heart 2 research project, which she works on as a member of the Intervention Innovations Team Lab (IIT-Lab), led by her PhD Program mentor, Professor and Associate Dean for Research Marya Gwadz. “Very little is known about long-term HIV survivorship. This abstract describes our work examining factors that contribute to Black and Latino persons living with HIV stopping, re-starting, and sustaining HIV medication, particularly in times of hardship,” Sabrina said. “As many of those living with HIV are now living longer, and must manage HIV care and medication over decades, it has become essential for us to understand what gets in the way of their care and what supports their care. Findings from this mixed methods study advance the literature on long-term HIV survivorship, focusing on African American/Black and Latino PLWH from low-SES backgrounds, who have the greatest barriers to engagement along the HIV care continuum.”
Sabrina’s research interests include Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Gender Non-Conforming Black, Indengenous, and People of Color youth and young adults; HIV; Anti-Racism; Intersectionality; and Resilience. She also received a scholarship to attend this year’s AHPA conference from the Public Health Social Work section and is both a first-time conference presenter and attendee. Said Dr. Gwadz, “Sabrina is a very promising early scholar doing high-caliber work addressing health inequities. It is gratifying to see her receive this recognition from the APHA’s HIV/AIDS Section.”
Lauren was selected for the Public Health Social Work Student award for the strength of her abstract, “The sexual victimization of women who use drugs (WWUDs): Developing and testing an ecological theory to guide prevention,” which shares results from research she conducted with Pedro Mateu-Gelabert, a longtime mentor and Associate Professor at CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. Explained Lauren, “Building on our previous research on the heightened risk of sexual violence faced by women who use drugs, we developed and tested an ecosocial theory of sexual violence specific to that population. We found that women’s psychosocial vulnerability (like having a co-occurring psychiatric diagnosis or being homeless) and sexual coercion within the drug using context both independently contributed to a woman's odds of being raped while using drugs. Sexual violence prevention should focus more on contextual factors rather than women’s individual behavior.”
Now a Senior Research Associate at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Lauren is currently analyzing data on the experiences of people who use drugs collected during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. She submitted the APHA abstract while she was still a PhD candidate. Lauren’s PhD Program mentor, Professor and PhD Program Director Victoria Stanhope, said “Lauren was a standout in our program and is already having an impact as a researcher for one of the largest public health agencies in the world. I am pleased that the APHA Public Health Social Work Section has honored Lauren for the outstanding work she completed during her student career.”