Martin Luther King MemorialAIDS 2018 PosterMenCount TeamAAMTeam Represent Staff at AIDS 2018

About Us

Team Represent is a multidisciplinary, academic research team focused on reducing health inequities and improving the mental and physical health of Black communities who are underrepresented in behavioral and social science research:

·       Black heterosexual men in the context of the HIV/AIDS epidemic; and,

·       Black lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people.

Core areas of focus

Black heterosexual men: HIV risk and prevention

Black low-income communities in the U.S. remain among those most affected by HIV/AIDS. In 2014, Black people represented 12% of the U.S. population, but accounted for 44% of people newly diagnosed with HIV (CDC, 2016). Black men—the focus of our research—represent just 6% of men in the U.S., but accounted for 40% of all new HIV cases among men in 2014 (CDC, 2015).  Black gay and bisexual men, and Black men who have sex with men (MSM) comprise the overwhelming majority of these cases (78%) and, as a result, have rightly been the focus of most HIV prevention studies focused on Black men. HIV prevention research focused on Black heterosexual men is rare, by comparison. Yet, there is evidence of a generalized epidemic (i.e., >1%) in Black heterosexual communities that are urban and predominantly low income  (CDC, 2011). Moreover, of men newly diagnosed with HIV who reported heterosexual contact as their mode of exposure, 64% were Black (CDC, 2015).  Black women—to whom HIV is more easily transmitted during heterosexual sex—represented 90% of new HIV cases among women in 2014.  

Black Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual (LGBs) populations

There is also a dearth of research on the health and well-being of Black lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.  Pockets of research exist about Black LGB mental health and substance use (Bowleg, Craig, & Burkholder, 2004; Cochran & Mays, 1994), as well as a handful of research relevant to coming out or identifying as LGB, but with a handful of exceptions (Bowleg, Huang, Brooks, Black, & Burkholder, 2003; Della, Wilson, & Miller, 2002; Green, A.I., 2007; Hunter, M.A., 2010; Pitt, R.N., 2009), research on how Black LGBs negotiate the challenges and benefits of their multiple social identities is virtually nonexistent. Studies about how Black LGBs manage to be resilient, despite the stressors associated with prejudice or discrimination based on the intersections of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation, are also rare.

Our research approach

As our name suggests, Team Represent is committed to filling these research gaps by representing some of the communities and topics that have been mostly underrepresented in behavioral and social science research. By using innovative theoretical frameworks (e.g., intersectionality, resilience, social ecological theories), combined with multiple methodological approaches (e.g., qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods, geospatial analytics), we seek to improve understanding of the lives and experiences of people in understudied Black communities. Through our applied research, we aim to inform the development of culturally-relevant research, interventions, and policies, and support the health promotion and health inequity reduction activities of community-based organizations.   

Our research is rigorous, applied, innovative, and timely. Our approach differs from many conventional approaches to “minority health” in three key ways:

·       Intersectionality as a core theoretical framework. We use an intersectionality-informed lens to study how multiple and intersecting social identities, such as race, gender, class, and sexual identity, reflect interlocking social-structural inequities (e.g., racism, heterosexism) that constrain opportunities for health and wellness.

·       A focus on social-structural and contextual factors. We transcend the exclusively individualistic focus of most traditional health research by examining how social-structural factors—including, but not limited to discrimination, poverty, unemployment, incarceration, and neighborhood environment—and contextual factors—such as masculinity, sexual scripts, and sexual and intimate relationships—intersect with individual-level factors to help and hinder health.

·       An emphasis on resilience. We aim to identify and better understand how the existing strengths and assets of Black communities can be harnessed to promote health and wellness and reduce health inequities.


What Black heterosexual men want and need from HIV prevention efforts

A study led by Lisa Bowleg shows that Black heterosexual men want and need more education and skills to prevent HIV. Learn how these findings can inform HIV prevention research, interventions, and policy.


For many Black gay and bisexual men, their Black identity ranks first

A sample of D.C.-based Black gay and bisexual men describe the ways in which they experience the intersections of race, gender, and sexual identity.