AIDS Advocate: Dr. Patrick Wilson Focuses His Research on HIV Prevention and Sexuality

Article excerpt

For Dr. Patrick Wilson, from the nascent stages of his career, working in academia has always been about making a difference in public health issues in his community. "I think it all came together around the middle of my [doctoral] program," he says. "Since graduate school, I've been doing work that I feel is immediately making an impact."

The 35-year-old Columbia University professor has focused his research on HIV prevention and ethnicity and sexuality among gay men in the United States. Specifically, he has zeroed in on the intersection of psychological factors like identity and socio-contextual factors such as stigma and discrimination.

Dr. Hiro Yoshikawa, Wilson's academic adviser during his doctoral years at NYU and now an academic dean at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, says Wilson has made extraordinary contributions to the field.

"I think his mix of qualitative and quantitative methods provides a richer perspective to inform HIV/AIDS prevention for these neglected populations," he says. "I have learned a lot from his publications about how racial and sexual stereotyping can increase health risks, especially those related to HIV/AIDS."

As a gay Black male, Wilson says his identity has greatly influenced the populations he looks at and the way he approaches problems that affect various groups. In the future, he hopes to delve into research on Latino gay men in New York City. With advances in drugs that have significantly improved the lives of those with HIV/AIDS, Wilson says the battle against AIDS has become a question of access to technology and services among minority communities and fighting stigmas.

While Wilson calls Yoshikawa a mentor, he says it was another mentor, Dr. Kathleen J. Sikkema, who guided him through a groundbreaking project. From 2002 to 2004, Wilson was involved in the implementation, data collection and data analysis of a secondary HIV prevention intervention, LIFT: Living in the Face of Trauma, for people living with HIV who experienced childhood sexual abuse. This intervention has since made its way to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Compendium of HIV Prevention Interventions with Evidence of Effectiveness. …