Advancing the Health and Wellbeing of Black and Latino Sexual Minority Men

Posted March 8, 2023

By Jordan J. White, DrPH, MSW
Assistant Professor
Bachelors of Social Work Department
School of Social Work
Morgan State University

In the 1990s, I witnessed several community members and relatives pass away from HIV/AIDS. These experiences piqued my interest in the role of social networks, assets, and resources in health promotion in minority communities. Family members (grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, siblings) , many of whom attended Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), supported my interests.

I am a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Social Work at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. I am also an NIMHD Diversity Supplement awardee. I have worked in HIV prevention and community health across government, academic, corporate and community-based settings for the past decade. My Diversity Supplement has allowed me to better understand gaps in HIV care as well as strategies to address COVID-19 and Mpox (formerly known as monkeypox) vaccine hesitancy among sexual minority men.

In 2019, I was honored to become the first graduate of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Public Health Certificate Program from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, due to my longstanding interest in sexual minority health.

My main research interests focus on advancing the health and wellbeing of populations experiencing disadvantage, particularly Black and Latino sexual minority men, in the United States. While there are many inequities and health disparities that urgently need to be addressed among these populations, HIV continues to be one of the most complex. The research for my supplement was primarily conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic and Mpox outbreaks of 2022 and 2023. Black and Latino sexual minority men were two of the most affected demographic groups. A key lesson or theme from this ongoing work is the need to encourage communication between providers and patients to promote healthy sexual practices within shifting health, clinical, and sociocultural contexts.

My research has primarily focused on HIV prevention, treatment and care among these populations. I have used qualitative and quantitative methodologies to explore factors that promote health and resilience among these populations. I have engaged hundreds of Black and Latino sexual minority men in qualitative and survey research over the past decade. Anecdotally, my research during the COVID-19 pandemic and Mpox outbreak period (2020-2023) documented some of the most intersectional, challenging, and dire outcomes that I have ever encountered. One example is how Black and Latino sexual minority men are less likely to be virally suppressed than White sexual minority men, thus leading to worse Mpox outcomes.

My hope is that some of these findings and counter-narratives may help to address gaps in our knowledge of resilience and its multi-level determinants among Black and Latino sexual minority men. Future resilience-based public health interventions, policies and practices for these populations are critical to increasing health equity.

HIV continues to have a devastating impact on Black and Latino sexual minority male populations throughout the United States. The persistently high community viral load and gaps in retention in care are increasingly recognized as contributing factors to these HIV-related racial disparities. Viral suppression rates are high among Black and Latino sexual minority men who are engaged in care. Many Black and Latino sexual minority men are living with stress and stress-related comorbidities that exacerbate HIV-related racial disparities. Psychosocial approaches emphasize that subjective experiences can produce acute and chronic stress which affect physical and mental health outcomes. For some sexual minority populations, the house and ballroom community are considered sources of resilience and social support that protect members from various stressors. Understanding how a disproportionately affected subpopulation of Black and Latino sexual minority men adjust or readjust to stressors can inform future behavioral resilience interventions and may help reduce HIV-related racial disparities.

Receiving the NIMHD Diversity Supplement funding was invaluable to my research. It has allowed me to conduct primary data collection, analysis, build my research program, and provided pilot data that I hope will inform future NIH grant applications. It also has fostered collaboration between Morgan State University and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


Dr. Jordan White is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. He is trained as a public health and social work scientist. Dr. White’s research and practice are centered on understanding and addressing health disparities and inequities among minority populations particularly sexual minority men in the United States.

Categories: Scientific Research, Workforce Diversity & Training
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing:">Load Comment Text</span>