The past decade has seen relationship science assume a place in public health research. Work in this area was largely energized by epidemiological data that suggested between 35% and 68% of new HIV infections among sexual minority men are transmitted between primary - rather than casual or anonymous - sexual partners (Goodreau et al., 2012; Sullivan, Salazar, Buchbinder, & Sanchez, 2009). In the ensuing time, it has become increasingly clear that addressing the HIV epidemic in the U.S. requires attention to relationship factors. Relationship status and the agreements couples form about sex with partners outside their relationships are now components in the guidance for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Couples HIV Testing and Counseling (CHTC; also known as Testing Together) has been endorsed as a standard of care for partnered sexual minority men by both CDC and the World Health Organization.
The goal of the Relationship Health Research Team is to contribute to the national conversation about intimate relationships as a context for behavioral health, with a particular emphasis on populations at high risk for HIV infection. Our work includes formative studies documenting associations between relationship functioning and health outcomes (e.g., sexual HIV transmission risk, substance use, depression, and intimate partner violence) as well as intervention development and testing. All of these studies in some way seek to evaluate the premise that individual and relationship health are interconnected. Click on our project descriptions to learn more about this work!