July 16, 2012

Media Advisory: International HIV/AIDS Conference to Feature Psychologists' Research on Couples and Families

Experts published in special issue of psychology journal available for interviews


New research into behavioral health prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS shows that involving couples and families may be more effective than treating individual patients. A special issue of the American Psychological Association journal Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice includes articles that reveal how interventions for couples and families may have more impact in both preventing the spread of HIV and its consequences. The authors are available to discuss their findings before and during the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., July 22-27.

The following are brief descriptions of and links to the articles with the authors’ contact information: 
“HIV/STD Prevention Interventions for Couples and Families: A Review and Introduction to the Special Issue,” (PDF, 69KB) Willo Pequegnat, PhD, National Institute of Mental Health, and James H. Bray, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine 

  • This introduction to the special issue reviews research on couple and family interventions for HIV prevention. It also discusses evidence-based interventions in couple and family practice for HIV prevention.

Contact James Bray by email

“Common Elements of Family-Based HIV Interventions,” (PDF, 69KB) Marguerita Lightfoot, PhD, University of California, San Francisco, and Norweeta Milburn, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles 

  • This article reviews the best ways to incorporate families in HIV/AIDS-prevention efforts. Clinical practice with families can benefit by focusing on increasing parental involvement and clarifying values, fostering positive parent and adolescent relationship and strengthening the communication skills of parents and adolescents.

Contact Marguerita Lightfoot at (510) 847-1232 or by email

“Couple-Based Behavioral HIV Intervention: Placing HIV Risk-Reduction Responsibility and Agency on the Female and Male Dyad,” (PDF, 59KB) Nabila El-Bassel, PhD, Columbia University, and Wendee M. Wechsberg, PhD, Research Triangle Institute International 

  • This review of recent research finds that couples are eager to work together to prevent HIV transmission and that prevention work with couples is clearly effective. The authors discuss how to address among couples risks such as substance use and unprotected sex outside the relationship

Contact Nabila El-Bassel at (917) 209-0329 or by email. Dr. El-Bassel will be attending the conference.

“Brief Strategic Family Therapy: An Intervention to Reduce Adolescent Risk Behavior,” (PDF, 61KB) José Szapocznik, PhD, Seth J. Schwartz, PhD, Joan A. Muir, PhD, and C. Hendricks Brown, PhD, University of Miami 

  • This article tests the effectiveness of the Brief Strategic Family Therapy model, which is a short-term family-treatment model developed for youth with behavior problems such as drug use, engaging in risky sex and delinquency. Research has shown this therapy, with a focus on diagnosing and restructuring family interactions, can be effective in many different American communities.

Contact José Szapocznik at (305) 243 8331, (cell) (305) 610-5723 or by email

“The Impact of Parenting on Gay Male Couples’ Relationships, Sexuality, and HIV Risk,” (PDF, 68KB) David M. Huebner, PhD, and Julia E. Mackaronis, PhD, University of Utah; Carmen Gómez Mandic, PhD, Sean C. Beougher, PhD, and Colleen C. Hoff, PhD, San Francisco State University 

  • This article provides the first qualitative data on how gay men assess their physical relationships after they become parents. Using data from a couples study, the researchers identified changes to relationship quality and sexual intimacy that parallel those seen in heterosexual parents.

Contact David Heubner at (415) 298-2896 or by email. Dr. Huebner will be attending the conference.

“A Case Study of Sexual Abuse and Psychological Correlates Among an HIV-Serodiscordant Couple,” (PDF, 78KB) Gail E. Wyatt, PhD, Tamra B. Loeb, PhD, John K. Williams, PhD, and Muyu Zhang, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles; Teri D. Davis, PhD, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System 

  • This is a case study of one couple – one person diagnosed with HIV, the other HIV-negative – with histories of childhood sexual abuse, posttraumatic stress disorder and depression and their experience with HIV prevention programs. Despite prevention programs, the couple decreased condom use over time. The researchers conclude that the success of these interventions may be compromised over time because of the couple’s sexual trauma histories and resulting mental health issues.

Contact Gail Wyatt at (310) 995-7791 or by email


July 22-27, 2012


XIX International AIDS Conference
Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Washington, D.C.

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 137,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.