Current Projects

Current projects of the Center on Health, Society, and Risk include:

  • Project Parivartan
  • Structures, Health and Risk among Reentrants, Probationers and Partners (SHARRPP)
  • Synthetic Analysis of HIV Prevention Programming Impact
  • Computer Assisted Neighborhood Visual Assessment System (CANVAS) Development Project
  • Community Health Across Network and Geographic Environments Study (CHANGES)
  • Community Disruption and HIV/AIDS in the District of Columbia

Project Parivartan

Project Parivartan, which means "long-term change," as well as "metamorphosis," conducts research on the implementation and impact of structural interventions (with a focus on community mobilization) for HIV prevention among female sex workers in two states in India - Andhra Pradesh, and more recently, in Maharashtra (proposed). Specifically, the project aims to understand the context of HIV risk among female sex workers and how community mobilization interventions address that risk. Data is collected through surveys (serial cross-sectional) and ethnographic methods (life history interviews, key informant interviews, field observation, etc.), and current data collection involves a comparative case study design. The Parivartan team includes staff in India and the US at several academic institutions. See more at

PI: Kim M. Blankenship (American University, Sociology)
Qualitative Data Manager: Monica R. Biradavolu (American University, Sociology)
Research Manager: Nimesh Dhungana (American University)

Project Parivartan Policy Briefs:


Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the purpose of the SHARRPP study (Structures, Health and Risk among Reentrants, Probationers and Partners) is to analyze the interconnections between the coercive mobility produced by US drug policies (the massive migration between the criminal justice system and the community) and race disparities in HIV-related sexual risk, among a sample of non-violent drug offenders in Connecticut. Further, the study examines whether the association between coercive mobility and HIV-related sexual risk is affected by the degree of social disorganization in the communities in which these offenders reside. It also will study the feasibility of recruiting and following the sexual partners of these individuals in order to better understand the impacts of coercive mobility on the partners' HIV-related risk. Longitudinal data (over 3 years) is being collected in New Haven, CT via surveys and semi-structured interviews and combined with secondary data related to neighborhoods.


PI: Kim M. Blankenship (American University, Sociology)
PI on Yale Subcontract: Robert Heimer (Yale School of Public Health)
Project Manager: Amy Smoyer (Yale School of Public Health)

Synthetic Analysis of HIV Prevention Programming Impact

The goal of the HIV synthesis project is to generate innovative methodological approaches to compiling, synthesizing and analyzing HIV-related data and to apply them in assessing current transition dynamics and the collective impact of all HIV prevention programming in and across the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. In addition, the project aims to work in collaboration with in-country institutions to expand their interdisciplinary expertise and thereby help ensure they can continue this work into the future. The synthesis project will result in a, collated, documented, and accessible (as appropriate) repository of validated HIV-related data; papers, reports, and presentations prepared in collaboration with in-country partners and published or available in venues with open access; user-friendly models and methodologies for conducting assessments of the impact of HIV prevention programming; and the in-country expertise to sustain this work into the future. This project is a consortium comprised of:

Centre hospitalier affilié universitaire de Québec (PI: Michel Alary)
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (PI: Martine Columbien)
American University (PI: Kim M. Blankenship)

Computer Assisted Neighborhood Visual Assessment System (CANVAS) Development Project

Funded by the Eunice K. Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the Computer Assisted Neighborhood Visual Assessment System (CANVAS) Development Project aims to develop an online interface for researchers to use Google StreetView to conduct neighborhood audits or systematic social observation. As part of the development project, the research team is developing the online interface, testing the reliability and validity of the measures obtained from the interface, and connecting neighborhood data to a nationwide sample of at-risk children.

PI on American subcontract: Michael Bader (American University)

PIs: Julian Teitler and Andrew Rundle (Columbia University)

Community Health Across Network and Geographic Environments Study (CHANGES)

The Community Health Across Network and geographic Study currently uses Chicago data on four domains - residential and commercial investment, crime, housing, and education - to investigate patterns of neighborhood change that might influence health. Although previous research links the health outcomes of residents to each of the four domains, little work attempts to understand patterns across the four domains. Current studies include an investigation of patterns of food-related retail firm's (e.g., grocery stores and restaurants) formation and failure rates, an analysis of the effect of housing policy, change on crime, and a study to investigate the reciprocal effects of crime and commercial investment. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars program at the University Of Pennsylvania and Harvard University fund the project. Researchers hope to expand the project to other cities, including Washington D.C., in the upcoming years.

CO-PIs: Michael Bader (American University), Laura Tech (University of Pennsylvania), Andrew Papachristos (Harvard University), Jennifer Jennings (New York University)

Community Disruption and HIV/AIDS in The District of Columbia

Community disruption is a social process that is critical in shaping HIV/AIDS risk and experiences with care and arguably, in producing related race and ethnic disparities. While there are many different processes that disrupt communities, CHRS and its partners are focused on three distinct processes of disruption particularly relevant for DC: criminal justice involvement, particularly the incarceration-re-entry cycle; neighborhood change/"gentrification;" and deportation.

To move this thinking forward, on September 13-14, 2012 the Center on Health, Risk and Society (CHRS) hosted a conference entitled: Community Disruption and HIV/AIDS in the District of Columbia. Read more about the project

Past Projects

Challenges and Opportunities for HIV Prevention, Law Enforcement and Gender-Based Violence

This project is sponsored by the United Nations Development Program and conducted in collaboration with Temple University. It seeks to

  • Demonstrate that laws on gender-based violence, sex work and same-sex relations are structural factors contributing to the HIV transmission among sex workers and sexual minorities
  • Make clear the roles of stigma and gender-based violence within law enforcement administration, policies and practices as prime mechanisms of this effect
  • Recount the evidence that punitive policies are typically ineffective on their own terms and may have negative unintended consequences, too
  • Offer case studies of reforms and interventions that have effectively addressed this problem
  • And set out recommendations for action by stake holders.

This work will primarily involve a comprehensive compilation, review and analysis of existing literature.

PI: Scott Burris (Temple University)
PI on American University subcontract: Kim Blankenship (Department of Sociology)

NIDA Summer Supplement, 2011

During the summer, CHRS hosted summer interns through a supplement to the SHARRPP project. This was part of the National Institute on Drug Abuse's (NIDA) summer internship program, and involved the mentoring of three interns who were selected by NIDA. Two interns, Christleen Casem and Maab Ibrahim, were hosted at CHRS for a period of 9 weeks, while the third intern, Nicolette Kalic, was placed at Yale University, in New Haven, CT where data collection for the SHARRPP project is underway. The internship provided opportunities to conduct literature reviews around incarceration, drug policy and HIV, and exposed interns to the process of data preparation and analysis on a large-scale, multi-method research project. The internship also included outreach to community-based agencies and participation in several community meetings and conferences.

The following interns participated in the summer internship:

Name: Christleen Casem
Hometown: Fremont, CA
School Presently Attending/Level: San Jose State University/Rising Senior
Major: Psychology
Minor: Sociology

Name: Nicolette Kalic
Hometown: San Diego, CA
School Presently Attending/Level: University of California, San Diego/Rising Senior
Major: Communications
Minor: Global Health

Name: Maab Ibrahim
Hometown: Richmond, VA
School Presently Attending/Level: Duke University/Rising Senior
Major: Public Policy; Global Health Certificate
Minor: Arabic