Community-Based Research

We conduct research on issues affecting the communities we serve.
The Community-Based Research (CBR) program conducts research designed to improve the lives of people and communities affected by multiple health disparities.

About Us

CBR study findings are used to identify needs for new services, improve existing services, and highlight trends in HIV and broader health areas. These findings are presented at local, statewide, national, and international levels. CBR also serves as a resource to other organizations conducting community-based research.

Principles guiding our program include:

community collaboration,
responsiveness to community needs,
innovation, and
rigorous scientific methods.

Get in Touch

To learn more about the program, please contact Sean J. Lawrence at or 213.201.1324 or fill out the form below.

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Our Research

We study social and psychological factors that influence the health and health behaviors of people living with HIV and populations at high risk of HIV infection.

Topics explored in our research include:
sexual risk behavior;
sexual communication;
HIV/AIDS treatment education;
Medicare policy;
substance use;
social and cultural factors shaping HIV risk among sexual and racial/ethnic minorities;
health disparities; and
social stigma and discrimination.
Funding sources for the program include the National Institutes of Health and other governmental and private agencies. Recent collaborative research partners include: UCLA, RAND Corporation, California State University Dominguez Hills; Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, and AIDS Alabama. We are currently conducting several research projects in various stages of preparation, data collection, analysis, and publication. These projects include PrEP Talk (PrEP uptake with young Black gay men and their friends), Still Climbin’ (addresses the impact of stigma and discrimination on health issues with Black gay men), and Rise (an HIV treatment adherence program with African Americans living with HIV). The CBR team at APLA Health seeks to continue to address health disparities with collaborative approaches to community based research.

Current Projects

We are currently conducting several research projects in various stages of preparation, data collection, analysis, and publication:

Still Climbin’ (Earn up to $510)
February 2020 – Present

A research study aimed at providing Black/African American men who have had sex with men or identify as non-heterosexual a safe space to discuss racial and sexual identities and provide advice and support for discrimination that they have experienced. The goal of this study is to address issues of stigma and medical mistrust by teaching participants how to cope with these issues. Findings from this study will inform how APLA Health can engage Black/African American clients in healthcare.

We are actively recruiting individuals to participate in this study. Please call or text us at 213.201.1324 to receive more information.

Projects on Hold

PrEP Talk
June 2019 – Present

A research study aimed at supporting young black gay and bisexual men in discussions about PrEP. The goal of this study is to evaluate a counseling and education program that utilizes the assistance of a close friend to change attitudes and correct misconceptions about PrEP.

Recruitment has concluded and we are in the final stages of data collection.

Project Rise
January 2018 – Present

A clinical trial of Project Rise, an APLA Health treatment education program that supports Black/African Americans living with HIV to be actively engaged in and informed about their healthcare through personalized and individual counseling. The goal of the trial is to see whether this program results in better health outcomes and adherence to medication.

Recruitment has concluded and we are in the final stages of data analysis.

Research Team

Matt G. Mutchler, Ph.D.
Sean J. Lawrence
Ian A. Klinger
Brandon Ivory
Laura Bogart, Ph.D. (RAND Corporation)

Gap Year Internship

Our gap year research internship is a program for students who will have completed a BA or BS and are considering graduate studies leading to a PhD or MD.

Gap year interns work 24-32 hours per week on a range of different projects over the course of their year at APLA. They obtain extensive training in research planning, recruitment, interviewing, analysis, and writing, while taking on progressively more challenging responsibilities over the course of the year. Many of our gap year interns have chosen this internship to help them explore whether a career in research is right for them, while adding a unique set of experiences to their graduate school applications.

We also accept a limited number of applicants for three-month fall, spring, and summer internships.

The Internship Experience

This is an unpaid internship that would involve working on multiple APLA research projects. Interns may participate in scheduling or conducting interviews, qualitative data analysis, collaborative team meetings, entering survey data, searching research literature, and assisting with preparation of grant proposals, as well as materials for presentation and publication. Other activities might involve screening participants or doing outreach at community venues, including nighttime outreach at gay-identified bars and clubs. Interns in our program are active team members involved in many aspects of the research projects, and expected to contribute independently and creatively to the research process. Self-motivated interns typically develop many new skills during the program, along with a hands-on understanding of community-based research.

Candidates for Internship

This is a good opportunity for someone who is considering a career in research or medicine, or who is interested in sociological and psychological perspectives on HIV and the experiences of people living with HIV or Black and Latino young gay and bisexual men. An ideal candidate would have strong writing skills, as well as some knowledge of research methods. Equally important is experience in or eagerness to learn about recruitment methods, writing about qualitative research findings, qualitative analysis procedures, and guidelines to protect study respondents’ confidentiality and welfare. We particularly encourage candidates who have experience with diverse populations, such as ethnic minority, HIV-positive, or LGBT individuals.

Three-Month Internship

We also accept a limited number of applicants for three-month fall, spring, and summer internships, designed for students who are currently in school. Fall and spring three-month internships require a minimum commitment of 15 hours per week, while summer internships are 40 hours per week.

How to Apply

Prior to applying, please email Matt G. Mutchler, Ph.D., at to find out if we are currently accepting applications for the gap-year or three-month internship programs. If we are currently accepting applications, please send us your résumé, one letter of recommendation, and a writing sample (preferably related to the social sciences, research, or health). Please indicate the dates of your availability, whether you are applying for the gap year internship or the three-month internship, and the number of hours per week you can work. Greater availability and/or hours will be preferable to more limited availability.

Applications are due by the following dates:

March 31 for internships starting in June
June 30 for internships starting in September
August 31 for internships starting in January

Comments from Current and Former Interns

“When I first applied to the APLA research internship program, I was unsure whether I would enjoy working in research. Yet I knew that I was interested in the social impacts and stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and felt that to truly understand these issues I would need to learn about the process of conducting research in this field. I applied for the internship on the notion that, while I thought I would not ultimately work in research, the experience would be valuable to me. However, as I finish my time in the program, I find myself in a place I had never expected: I love doing research. This internship gave me a rare opportunity: I felt valued as an intern (I never went on coffee runs and never spent my days standing mindlessly at the copying machine), I felt a part of a warm and welcoming team, I began to understand how much hard work goes into research and publishing, and I was challenged intellectually by my supervisors to achieve more than I expected of myself. I cannot overstate how appreciative and fortunate I feel about my experience here. I grew intellectually, professionally and personally—everything one would want from an internship. Today I feel confident in my decision to pursue a career in the HIV/AIDS field, and that assuredness is due to my internship at APLA.”

Emily Brown, Washington University, St. Louis

“The APLA gap year internship is an incredible opportunity to get hands-on exposure to the field before pursuing higher education in medicine, public health, psychology, or sociology. There are several ongoing research projects I work on that are unique and in different stages of completion, which gives me the chance to tackle diverse research challenges and goals. As an integral part of the research team, I feel that my contributions are meaningful and impactful, and I am given the independence to practice and refine my own skills of writing and analyzing scientific information. Additionally, my supervisors are great mentors and teachers who are invested in my growth and do so much to provide me an incredible educational experience. Most importantly, working with HIV care and prevention has shown me the important intersection between medicine, society, and culture. Having this broader perspective on what factors go into the health of a person has undoubtedly better prepared me for medical school and a career in medicine.”

Mansur Ghani, Yale Medical School

CBR Publications

Our research findings are published in leading national and international journals, as well as presented to numerous local service providers and community forums. A partial list is outlined below:

Mutchler, M.G., Wagner, G., Cowgill, B.O., McKay, T., Risley, B., & Bogart, L. (2011). Improving HIV/AIDS care through treatment advocacy:  Going beyond client education to empowerment by facilitating client-provider relationships.  AIDS Care, 23(1), 79-90. (pdf)

Bogart, L.M., Wagner, G.J., Mutchler, M.G., Risley, B., McDavitt, B., McKay, T., & Klein, D.  (2012). Community HIV treatment advocacy programs may support treatment adherence. AIDS Education and Prevention, 24(1), 1-14. (pdf)


McDavitt, B., Mutchler, M.G. (2014). “Dude, you’re such a slut!”Barriers and facilitators of sexual communication among young gay men and their best friends.  Journal of Adolescent Research, 29(4), 464-498. (pdf)

George, S., Phillips, R., McDavitt, B., & Mutchler, M.G.  (2012). The cellular generation and a new risk environment: Implications for texting-based sexual health promotion interventions among minority young men who have sex with men. Published in the proceedings of the American Medical Informatics Association Annual Symposium, 247-256. (pdf)

Mutchler, M.G, & McDavitt, B. (2011). “Gay boy talk” meets “girl talk” HIV risk reduction assumptions in young gay men’s sexual health communication with best friends. Health Education Research, 26(3), 489-505. (pdf)


McDavitt B., Bogart L.M., Mutchler M.G., Wagner G.J., Green H.D. Jr, Lawrence S.J., Mutepfa, K.D., Nogg, K.A. (2016). Dissemination as dialogue: Building trust and sharing research findings through community engagement. Preventing Chronic Disease (13)150473. (link)

Mutchler, M.G., McKay, T., McDavitt, B., Gordon, K.K.  (2013). Using peer ethnography to address HIV-related health disparities among urban young Black and Latino men who have sex with men. American Journal of Public Health, 103(5), 849-852. (pdf)


Mutchler, M.G., McDavitt, B., Gordon, K.K.  (2013). “Becoming bold”: Alcohol use and sexual exploration among African American and Latino young men who have sex with men (YMSM). Journal of Sex Research, 51(6), 696-710. (pdf)

McKay, T., McDavitt, B., George, S., Mutchler, M.G. (2012). ‘Their type of drugs’: perceptions of substance use, sex and social boundaries among young African American and Latino gay and bisexual men. Culture, Health & Sexuality: An International Journal for Research, Intervention and Care, 14(10), 1183-1196. (pdf)

Mutchler, M.G., McKay, T., Candelario, N., Liu, H., Stackhouse, B., & Ayala, G. (2011). Sex, drugs, peer connections, and HIV: Use and risk among African-American, Latino, and multiracial young men who have sex with men (YMSM) in Los Angeles and New York. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Service, 23(2), 271-295. (pdf)


Mutchler, M.G., Bogart, L.M., Elliot, M., McKay, T., Suttorp, M. & Schuster, M.A. (2008). Psychosocial correlates of unprotected sex without disclosure of HIV-positivity among African-American, Latino, and White men who have sex with men and women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37(5), 736-748. (pdf)

McKay, T. & Mutchler, M. G.  (2011). The effect of partner sex: Nondisclosure of HIV status to male and female partners among men who have sex with men and women (MSMW). AIDS & Behavior, 15(6), 1140-1152. (pdf)

Mutchler, M.G. (2003). Gay bathhouses and public policy. Journal of Homosexuality, 44(3-4), 221-242. (pdf)

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