Former UNC WK Kellogg Health Scholar Briana Woods-Jaeger is making strides to reduce sexual health disparities among African American female youth.
Woods-Jaeger is the principal investigator on a teen sexual health study at the University of Iowa that has has partnered with Social Services and female African American high school and middle school students. The study uses photovoice, a research method that uses photos to promote group discussion and social action.
Woods-Jaeger was a Kellogg Community Health Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 2010-2012. She worked with Dr. Alexandra Lightfoot and Dr. Eugenia Eng, who lead the Community-Based Participatory Research Core at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. The Kellogg Health Scholar program matched post-doctoral students with academic and community mentors to build capacity for future CBPR research.
Woods-Jaeger’s research at the University of Iowa aims to identify intervention targets and evaluate social and community factors related to African American female youth sexual risk behavior.
Woods-Jaeger’s program provides girls with a disposable camera each week and gave them a photography assignment used to facilitate discussion about social influences on their lives. From the program, researchers were able to identify important contextual factors that impact sexual health and a variety of health related issues.
“This is important due to current health disparities experienced by African American female youth,” Woods-Jaeger said. “Specifically, African American young women suffer disproportionately high rates of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections nationwide, experiencing the highest rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia in the United States, and an eleven times higher rate of HIV compared to Latina and White young women.”
Woods-Jaeger said her work with the UNC Office of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention has directed her current research.
“My work at UNC definitely impacted my work here,” she said. “ I was extremely fortunate to receive outstanding mentorship and training in community-based participatory research and implementing photovoice projects with community partners. I had the opportunity to co-teach the photovoice course that Dr. Lightfoot and Dr. Eng teach both of my years as a post-doc. I also was fortunate to be involved with an incredible partnership between UNC and Strengthening The Black Family, Inc. focused on preventing adolescent risk behavior and promoting positive youth development. I am still involved with this partnership and it continues to be instrumental in my current endeavors.”