AJPH Forum


The Journal Forum provides public health student members the opportunity to discuss current public health research with American Journal of Public Health authors and report back to the rest of the Student Assembly. The project’s goals are three-fold:

  • to enrich the understanding of published articles by offering additional context on the research project
  • to help students build relationships with senior scholars in their fields of interest
  • to expand the reach of AJPH articles

Students interview scholars who have recently published in the American Journal of Public Health and write a short essay about their conversation. Interviews may address the mechanics of the research, interpretations of the findings, the researcher’s career trajectory, and other issues of interest to the student interviewer.

August, 2011 Entry
Liesl Nydegger
School: Claremont Graduate University
Citation: Dworkin, S. L., Fullilove, R. E., & Peacock, D. (2009). Are HIV/AIDS prevention interventions for heterosexually active men in the United states gender-specific? American Journal of Public Health, 99, 981-984.

In our interview, Bob Fullilove described “Are HIV/AIDS Prevention Interventions for Heterosexually Active Men in the United States Gender-Specific?” as a commentary on the need to incorporate theories of masculinity into HIV-prevention interventions for heterosexual men.

Dr. Fullilove is descendant from several generations of African-American physicians, and his father was an urologist who focused his practice on sexually transmitted infections. Fullilove grew up watching African-American men walk into his father’s office, and learned what it meant to be a “black man in Newark, N.J.,” an experience that piqued his interest in men’s health. As HIV began to spread in the 1980s, Fullilove decided to extend his father’s work in the area of HIV and beyond.

Today he works with prisoners, two-thirds of whom are people of color, and he stresses that understanding masculinity is extremely important to working with this population. Frequently, popular representations of masculinity incorporate the activities that put these men in prison in the first place. Providing HIV-prevention interventions that are grounded in theoretical understandings of masculinity is imperative for the health and survival of prisoners, their family and friends, and the broader community (if and when they are released from prison).

Fullilove hopes that readers of the AJPH article will come to agree that theories of masculinity are a clear missing link in HIV-prevention interventions for heterosexual men. He further hopes that readers and researchers will act on the article’s recommendations for gender-specific HIV-prevention interventions.

When asked about the experience of preparing the paper, Fullilove explained that the author’s role differs depending on the genre of the paper and the person’s order in the author list. The challenge of writing a commentary article is trying to combine the authors’ different points of view and perspectives into one voice. With this paper, first author Shari Dworkin was aware that women at risk for HIV are often told to discuss the virus with their male partner(s). She approached her co-author to ask her if this approach made sense to them as men. Dworkin created the main ideas for the paper and elicited ways to consolidate these thoughts into one perspective. Fullilove and Peacock helped with editing, adding, and deleting content until there was a unified narrative about the pervasive problem of overlooking the experience of heterosexual men when planning HIV interventions.

Writing journal articles can be difficult because of space limitations. It is important to be thorough while using as few words as possible. Fullilove stated that no major points were missing from the paper, but frequent rewriting was necessary to shave down the number of words as much as possible.
As a student interested in the field of HIV, I found Dr. Fullilove’s suggestions on how to become more involved in writing publishable papers helpful. First, he stressed that students should identify their main area of interest to help frame specific research areas and to write a commentary to integrate ideas and formulate research plans. Writing a dissertation is one way to prepare for receiving reviews that can provide the initial step for preparing manuscripts for journals. Students can also explore the possibility of writing up a portion of a project they have conducted with a faculty member and submitting it for publication.

Ongoing call for authors:

If you’re interested in writing a Journal Forum column, please e-mail Moriah McSharry McGrath, AJPH student editorial board member, at moriah@pdx.edu. Include in your message:

  • your name and APHA membership ID number
  • your academic program and school
  • citations for 2-4 recent AJPH articles whose authors you’re interested in interviewing (ideally, these articles should have been published in the last six months)

Moriah will confirm an article and deadline with you and will also provide further information to help you with the project.