Dr. Dickson-Gomez is a Medical Anthropologist whose primary research interests have focused on HIV prevention with active drug users, the social context of drug use and HIV risk, and structural factors that increase drug users’ risk of becoming infected with HIV.
Dr. Dickson-Gomez has been principal investigator of four NIDA-funded research projects with active drug users. The first was a primarily qualitative project to study the effects of housing policy on drug users’ housing access, and how their housing status affects HIV risk. A currently funded study uses qualitative, quantitative and geospatial analysis to study differences in drug-using and non-drug-using low-income residents’ access to subsidized and free-market rental housing, and the effects of housing status and neighborhood risk factors on HIV risk. Dr. Dickson-Gomez was responsible for a research project studying the social context of HIV risk among crack users in El Salvador. Based on the results of this study, she and her team developed a multi-level community-based HIV prevention intervention for crack users that is being evaluated in a currently funded project. Among other components, the project uses social networks to recruit at-risk crack users to take a rapid HIV test and an ego-network risk-reduction intervention for crack users. Dr. Dickson-Gomez has also been involved as co-investigator on two NIDA-funded peer-led interventions with active drug users, including the Risk Avoidance Partnership, and a project studying sustained use of female condoms among high-risk urban women. Both interventions used and analyzed the social networks of participants, both to deliver intervention materials and to evaluate the results. As a post-doctorate, Dr. Dickson-Gomez received training from Carl Latkin, and worked with him analyzing qualitative process data for the Study of HIV Infection in Etiology of Lung Disease (SHIELD), another social network intervention for active drug users. Dr. Dickson-Gomez has been involved in directing the formative qualitative data collection for a social network intervention for African-American men who have sex with men. She thus has extensive experience in conducting qualitative research, including focus groups, in-depth interviews, ethnographic observations, process evaluations of interventions, and qualitative analysis. She also has experience working on mixed-methods projects and triangulating different data sources in analysis, and using formative research to develop and adapt interventions.