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Thespina Yamanis

Assistant Professor School of International Service

Dr. Thespina (Nina) Yamanis’ professional interests are in identifying the mechanisms that link social and structural conditions to global health disparities and in designing community-based interventions to improve health among vulnerable groups. She has conducted qualitative and quantitative field research for the past ten years on the social and sexual networks of young, urban men in Tanzania and their influence on the men’s HIV-related behavior. She is Co-Investigator on an R01 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (2012-2017) to conduct a combined microfinance and health promotion intervention for young Tanzanian men. In 2015, she was awarded a two year grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases ADELANTE Program to pilot an innovative structural intervention combining immigration-related legal aid and peer navigation for immigrant Latino sexual minorities in Washington, DC. Dr. Yamanis has published her research in social science and public health journals, including Social Science and Medicine, AIDS and Behavior, Global Public Health and Sociological Methods and Research. In 2015, together with SIS Professor Dr. Susan Shepler, she traveled to Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak to assess community members' perceptions of the Ebola public health response system (http://slinvisiblewar.blogspot.com/). Dr. Yamanis has consulted on research at the World Health Organization on global violence against women. She often involves students in her research, and teaches global health at the undergraduate level and program planning at the Master's level.

Degrees

PhD & MPH, Health Behavior, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health; BA with Highest Honors, Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Favorite Spot on Campus
SIS Building
Languages Spoken
Kiswahili, Spanish, Greek, and a bit of French

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Office
SIS-School of Intl Service
SIS - 227
Tuesdays 3:45 - 5:45 pm. Please sign up using this link: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0c4eabab29a6fb6-dryamanis
Contact Info
(202) 885-6562

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For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Research Interests

Dr. Yamanis’ research focuses on improving the health and well-being of underserved populations in developing countries.  Her interests are in understanding and targeting the social determinants of HIV risk and relationship violence, evaluating and implementing novel methods for reaching hidden and vulnerable populations such as sex workers, and developing multi-level interventions that improve health behaviors.  Her current research focuses on harnessing the power and influence of social networks to promote adolescent health in sub-Saharan Africa.

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • American University Faculty Retreat, Research Proposal Competition Winner (with Susan Shepler), 2014
  • Health Disparities Scholar, National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program, 2010, 2013-2014
  • Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 2007   
  • C.V. Starr International Research Award, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2006   
  • Global Health Fellow, Duke University's Sanford Institute of Public Policy Program on Global Policy and Governance in Geneva, Switzerland, 2006   
  • Intern, World Health Organization, Department of Gender, Women & Health, 2006   
  • Meritorious Student Paper Award, Society of Behavioral Medicine, 2006   
  • Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health, 2004   
  • Lucy S. Morgan Fellowship, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for outstanding leadership in Health Behavior and Health Education, 2004   
  • Phi Beta Kappa Honorary Society, 1995

Professional Presentations

  • “HIV Risk Behaviors among Young Male Injecting Drug Users in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania”, International AIDS Conference, 2010.   
  • “Partnership-level Determinants of Relationship Violence by Young Men in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania”, International AIDS Conference, 2010.   
  • “Neighborhood Poverty and Lifetime Depression among Older, Rural Adults”, Society of Behavioral Medicine, 2006.      

Grants and Sponsored Research

 

Selected Publications

  • Kajula, Balvanz, Kilonzo, Mwikoko, Yamanis, Mulawa, Kajuna, Hill, Conserve, McNaughton Reyes, Maman (2016). Vijana Vijiweni II: A cluster-randomized trial to evaluate the efficacy of a microfinance and peer health leadership intervention for HIV and intimate partner violence prevention among social networks of young men in Dar es Salaam. BMC Public Health. Epub ahead of print 3 February 2016.
  • Mulawa, Kajula, Yamanis, Balvanz, Kilonzo, Maman (2016). Perpetration and victimization of intimate partner violence among young men and women in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Epub ahead of print 22 Jan 2016.
  • Palazzolo, Yamanis, De Jesus, Maguire-Marshall & Barker (2015). Documentation status as a contextual determinant of HIV risk among transgender immigrant Latinas. LGBT Health, Epub ahead of print 15 December 2015. PMID: 26669583
  • Maman, Kajula, Balvanz, Kilonzo, Mulawa & Yamanis (2015).  Leveraging strong social ties among young men in Dar es Salaam:  A pilot intervention of microfinance and peer leadership for HIV and gender-based violence preventionGlobal Public Health. Epub ahead of print 20 Nov 2015. PMID: 26588115
  • Yamanis, Fisher, Moody, and Kajula (2015).  Young men’s social network characteristics and associations with sexual partnership concurrency in Tanzania. AIDS and Behavior,  Epub ahead of print 14 August 2015.
  • Yamanis, Merli, Neely, Tian, Moody, Xiaowen, and Gao (2013).  An empirical analysis of the impact of recruitment patterns on RDS estimates among a socially ordered population of female sex workers in China. Sociological Methods and Research, 42 (3), 392-425.
  • Yamanis, Doherty, Weir, Bowling, Kajula, Mbwambo, & Maman (2013). From coitus to concurrency: sexual partnership characteristics and risk behaviors of 15-19 year old men recruited from urban venues in Tanzania. AIDS and Behavior, 17(7), 2405-2415.
  • Yamanis, Maman, Mbwambo, Earp, & Kajula (2010). Social venues that protect against and promote HIV risk for young men in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Social Science and Medicine, 71 (9), 1601-1609.

AU Expert

Area of Expertise: HIV/AIDS risk behavior, youth, sub-Saharan Africa, hard-to-reach populations, violence against women and HIV

Additional Information: Thespina Yamanis’ professional interests are in identifying the mechanisms that link social and economic conditions to global health disparities and in designing community-based interventions to improve health among the most vulnerable groups. She has conducted qualitative and quantitative field research for the past five years on the social networks of young, urban men in Tanzania and their influence on the men’s HIV risk behavior and partner violence. Her work is part of a grant funded by the National Institutes of Health in which Yamanis and colleagues are piloting a combined health promotion/microfinance intervention for the men. In addition to her work in Tanzania, she has conducted research on violence against women at the World Health Organization, as well as research on migration and mental health with colleagues at the Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública in Mexico. She currently teaches courses on health in developing countries and on micropolitics of development.

Media Relations
To request an interview please call AU Media Relations at 202-885-5950 or submit an interview request form.

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