Community-Based Research

About Us

The Community-Based Research (CBR) program at AIDS Project Los Angeles conducts research designed to improve the lives of people and communities affected by HIV/AIDS. It is one of the only programs of its kind operating within an AIDS service organization, and it additionally serves as a resource to other organizations conducting community-based research. Principles guiding our program include community collaboration, responsiveness to community needs, innovation, and rigorous scientific methods. Our study findings are used to identify needs for new services, improve existing services, and highlight trends in the field. These findings are presented at local, statewide, national and international levels. To learn more about the program, please contact Matt G. Mutchler, Ph.D., at 213.201.1522 or send an email to mmutchler@apla.org.

Our Research

We study social and psychological factors that influence the health and health behaviors of people living with HIV and populations at high risk of HIV infection. Topics explored in our research include: sexual risk behavior; sexual communication; HIV/AIDS treatment education; Medicare policy; substance use; social and cultural factors shaping HIV risk among sexual and racial/ethnic minorities; health disparities; and social stigma and discrimination. Funding sources for the program include the National Institute of Mental Health and National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health. Collaborative research partners include: UCLA; Harvard University; RAND Corporation; California State University, Dominguez Hills; Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science; AIDS Alabama; the University of Alabama; and the University of California, San Francisco.

Current Projects

We are currently conducting several research projects in various stages of preparation, data collection, analysis, and publication:

  • A clinical trial of Project Rise, an APLA Treatment Education program that supports people living with HIV to be actively engaged in and informed about their health care. The goal of the trial is to see whether this program results in better health outcomes and adherence to medication.
  • The Friends Study: A three-year qualitative study that examines how young Black gay and bisexual men communicate with friends about sexual health and HIV testing. The goal is to understand how sexual health values are shared, modified, or developed within communication between friends.
  • Project MedNet: a large longitudinal study of Black people living with HIV examining how misconceptions about HIV may spread within networks of friends, family, and others. Data collection is complete, and we are currently conducting community presentations at local organizations to share the findings and foster dialogue about these issues.
  • A qualitative research project exploring how substances become associated with sex among Black and Latino young men who have sex with men.
  • A study on the use of text messaging for sexual health promotion among young men who have sex with men.
Research Team
  • Matt G. Mutchler, PhD
  • Bryce McDavitt, PhD
  • Sean Jamar Lawrence
  • Kelsey Nogg
  • Mansur Ghani
Gap Year Internship Program

APLA’s gap year research internship is a program for students who will have completed a BA or BS and are considering graduate studies leading to a PhD or MD. Gap year interns work 30-40 hours per week on a range of different projects over the course of their year at APLA. They obtain extensive training in research planning, recruitment, interviewing, analysis, and writing, while taking on progressively more challenging responsibilities over the course of the year. Many of our gap year interns have chosen this internship to help them explore whether a career in research is right for them, while adding a unique set of experiences to their graduate school applications. We also accept a limited number of applicants for three-month fall, spring, and summer internships.  Learn more about our internship program.

CBR Publications

Our research findings are published in leading national and international journals, as well as presented to numerous local service providers and community forums. A partial list is outlined below:

HIV/AIDS Treatment Education
Sexual Health Norms & Sexual Communication
Innovative Research Methods
Substance Use & Sexual Risk Behavior
Sexual Risk & Protective Behavior