Gender, Sexuality, and Health

Overview

Gender, Sexuality, and Health serves as a coordinating mechanism for all Columbia Psychiatry faculty engaged in the study of gender and sexuality while providing critically-needed training support to residents, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, professional staff, and community members. The Area includes the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, the Behavioral Sciences Research in HIV Infection Postdoctoral Training Program (T32), the Program for the Study of LGBTQI+ Health and the Columbia Gender Identity Program, the Northeast/Caribbean AIDS Education and Training Center, and the Master of Bioethics Program.

Faculty members work closely with other branches of the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University School of Nursing, Columbia University Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine, and Mailman School of Public Health. In addition, there are strong connections to the Columbia University School of Social Work and the clinical care centers of the Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC).

The Area of Gender, Sexuality, and Health is committed to promoting equity in all aspects of our work, and to ending racism and other social inequities. Racism and its intersections with gender and sexuality compound the challenges for many. Since its start, Black and Brown people have been disproportionally burdened by the HIV pandemic, principally due to systemic racism and related social determinants of health. The COVID-19 pandemic and its negative social, economic, and health consequences have again created an inequitable burden for the very same Black and Brown communities. The Area has a longstanding tradition of research focused on advancing optimal health promotion to reduce disparities in gender and sexual health among communities most affected, including people of color, those who identify as LGBTQI+, and those vulnerable to – and living with – HIV. Going forward, the Area is strongly committed to more deliberately and directly addressing systemic racism and other social injustices in the content of our research portfolio and in the way our research is conducted, in our approach to training and mentoring, and in our clinical service provision. 

Goals

  • To prevent new HIV infections, improve health outcomes, and reduce disparities by advancing our understanding of individual, social, contextual, and structural factors influencing outcomes along the HIV prevention and care continuum
  • To translate HIV research into culturally and contextually sound evidence-based interventions and structurally competent practices and policies
  • To provide multidisciplinary education and training programs and capacity-building assistance for healthcare providers and systems treating sexual and gender minority persons and persons living with HIV/AIDS
  • To promote the health and wellness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans and gender nonbinary  people, their families and communities through research, clinical practice, education and training, and innovative policy development

Programs and Centers

HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies

Directed by Robert H. Remien, PhD, with Co-Directors Claude Ann Mellins, PhD and Gina Wingood, PhD, the HIV Center at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University was established in 1987 as one of the first National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) AIDS research centers. The mission of the HIV Center is to prevent new HIV infections, improve health outcomes, and reduce disparities by advancing our understanding of individual, social, contextual, and structural factors influencing outcomes along the HIV prevention and care continuum. Further, the center aims to translate this research into culturally and contextually sound evidence-based interventions and structurally competent practices and policies for maximum public health impact, and to increase the capacity of current and future generations of scientists, service providers, and community and policy leaders. The HIV Center conducts its research in the United States and in multiple countries across the globe.

Affiliated with the HIV Center is an HIV Center Postdoctoral Training Program (Director: Theodorus Sandfort, PhD) that began in 1989.  The postdoctoral research training program provides innovative training in sexuality, gender, and mental health research as applied to HIV prevention and HIV treatment and care across populations in both national and global contexts.

Visit the HIV Center

Program for the Study of LGBTQI+ Health

The Program for the Study ofLGBTQI+Health promotes the health and wellness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender nonbinary people and their families and communities, through research, clinical practice, education and training, and innovative policy development. The program was launched in 2012 by the Area of Gender, Sexuality, and Health at the NYS Psychiatric Institute and the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry, in collaboration with the Columbia University School of Nursing. Current priority areas include: (1) Youth and families, (2) aging, (3) transgender health, (4) sexual minority women’s health, and (5) neuroscience of gender. 

Visit the LGBTQI+ Health Program

Columbia Gender Identity Program

Our specialized interdisciplinary team across Columbia University Irving Medical Center offers services ranging from psychotherapy and medication management to hormone therapy and surgery. We utilize an evidence-based approach to mental health care that is focused on instilling pride and celebration of gender diversity. Our services are designed to help trans and gender nonbinary children, adolescents, adults, and their families by facilitating identity development, social support, and self-acceptance and resilience across the lifespan. Our clinic also serves cisgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer youth to promote their mental health and wellbeing.

Visit the Columbia Gender Identity Program

Northeast/Caribbean AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC)

The AETC is a multi-site training program housed within the HIV Center. Previously focused solely on New York and New Jersey, the AETC expanded both in scope and territory in the fall of 2015 to include Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. As part of a national network of eight regional and three national centers, the Northeast/Caribbean AETC conducts targeted, multidisciplinary education and training programs and capacity-building assistance for healthcare providers and systems treating persons living with HIV/AIDS. Its training approach includes a focus on practice transformation and interprofessional education. The overall goal is to build regional capacity to provide accessible, high quality treatment and service that addresses HIV and its comorbidities and improves outcomes along the HIV continuum of care.

VIsit Northeast Caribbean AIDS Education

Master of Science in Bioethics

As advances in biotechnology and biomedicine gain momentum, so do issues concerning their ethical, legal, and social implications in the United States and around the world. From stem cell research to healthcare reform, these topics involve critical dilemmas at the intersections of law, society, culture, public policy, philosophy, religion, economics, and history. The Master of Science in Bioethics grounds students in interdisciplinary approaches and models to address the most pressing bioethical challenges. The program prepares students to act as responsible and responsive leaders in this new and ever-growing field. It also includes a concentration in global bioethics – the first of its kind in the U.S.