Minority AIDS Research Initiative (MARI) Project

The Minority Aids Research Initiative (MARI) project was developed to examine the sexual behavior and the prevalence of HIV/STI (sexually transmitted infections) in African-American (AA) males who have sex with males (MSM) in the Southeastern United States.  Overall, the project is an ecological study that aims to gain a better understanding of the complex interaction between individual-level factors and environmental contexts, as well as their association with high-risk sexual behaviors among AA MSM.  The research study is being conducted by MBK at two sites located in the Southeastern region of the United States – Jackson, MS & Atlanta, GA.

The study seeks to confidentially enroll participants from both study sites, with the hopes of gaining a thorough comprehension of the underlying physiological and social issues that affect HIV and STI contraction.  Specifically, MARI is a cross-sectional study that assesses specific psychosocial factors and perceived body image characteristics which are related to high-risk behaviors, and explores the geographic differences among these associations. The MARI study provides health screenings for participants, observing multiple health status variables such as blood pressure, BMI and other anthropometric factors, previous sexual health statuses, and also sexual behavior and past experiences.  One hallmark data collection tool used in this study is the Audio Computer-Assisted Self Interviewing survey, which is designed to extend the current understanding of these associations by examining the interactive associations of personality traits, psychosocial factors, body image perceptions and high-risk sexual behaviors, with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and sexually transmitted disease (STD) infection.  The survey encompasses a myriad of categories and well-accepted rubrics such as the Likert scale, in order to obtain accurate data from participants about their life experiences.

The MARI study carries the potential to have important public health implications on HIV and STI prevention strategies, while providing valuable insight on disparities in HIV/STI morbidity and mortality.  All participants of the MARI Research Project can earn up to $35 for participation.  For more information, contact Project Coordinator Nikendrick Sturdevant at (601) 957-7710 or email  nsturdevant@mbk-inc.org.