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Last modified: Monday, May 11, 2009

IU receives NIH grant to study HIV risk, prevention among bisexual men

May 11, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Center for Sexual Health Promotion in Indiana University's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation has received a $425,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health for a study designed to begin filling important gaps in HIV research involving bisexual men.

The study will specifically involve bisexually active men in Indianapolis, taking special care to include participants of diverse ages, ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses. Brian Dodge, associate director of CSHP, said the study is unique because it focuses on Midwestern bisexual men -- but also because sexuality research, particularly research involving HIV infection and transmission, generally focuses on people who are exclusively "homosexual" or "heterosexual" in terms of their sexual behavior and/or orientation. Little is actually known about men who have sex with both men and women or the factors that contribute to their being a high-risk population for HIV infection and transmission.

"In most HIV research, people are either classified as having acquired the infection through having sex with other men or with other women," said Dodge, principal investigator of the NIH study. "This is important because we think there are larger numbers of individuals than we know of, or are willing to acknowledge, who are at risk for HIV acquisition or transmission because of their bisexual behaviors but it is not something that is talked about. And we have no evidence-based interventions designed to help this population."

The study will use a community-based participatory research approach that from the start will rely on an advisory committee composed of bisexual men and representatives of health and community organizations that serve them. Researchers plan to work with the committee to guide the study in a way that ensures that the data collected about bisexual men -- such as factors and behaviors that increase risk for infection and transmission of HIV and other sexual transmitted infections -- will be integrated into useful information and programming to help improve their sexual health.

Dodge said the new data and interventions should have applications in multiple contexts. He also noted that the focus on Indianapolis and Indiana is noteworthy because the state traditionally has fared poorly in federal funding for public health research and practice efforts.

The study, "Sexual Health Among Bisexual Men," is sponsored by the NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Co-investigators are Barbara Van der Pol, Department of Infectious Disease, IU School of Medicine; Michael Reece, CSHP, Department of Applied Health Science in the IU School of HPER; J. Dennis Fortenberry, Department of Pediatrics, IU School of Medicine; David Malebranche, Department of General Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine; and Omar Martinez, IU School of HPER.

Dodge can be reached at 812-856-0792 or For more information about the Center for Sexual Health Promotion, visit