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Social Networks and HIV Testing Among African Immigrants

Project: 14
Name: Emmanuel Koku, PhD (; 443.465.4653)
Department: Sociology


This study examines the experiences of HIV stigma among African immigrants who now live in the USA.

The project seeks to understand how people's social relationships (who they are friends with, who they associate with, who they seek advice from) influence their tendency to stigmatize and experience HIV stigma, and how stigma affects the decision to test for, seek and remain in HIV care.

The study uses a variety of methods: in-depth interviews, focus groups and surveys to study 350 African immigrants (150 HIV+ and 200 HIV-) living in the Philadelphia area.

The project started in September 2017 and will run through April 2019

Associated Independent Study:

The independent study could cover one of the following: (a) the social construction of, and experiencing of living with an illness - both chronic and infectious. The study will attempt to examine the socio-cultural and economic forces that influence the experience of living with an illness such as HIV or other infectious or chronic conditions, and/or (b) the role of individual, relational (social networks), socio-economic, location/geographical factors in explaining a number of health outcomes (HIV risk behaviors, obesity, smoking, physical activity, addiction, etc). Students may use data from the project to support the independent study, where applicable.

Gained Experience:

At the end of the program, it is expected that students will increase their proficiency and technical skills in:

  1. qualitative and quantitative research design,
  2. data collection
  3. data analysis using a variety of software such as NVivo, SPSS/STATA, and
  4. presentation of research findings - as manuscripts and/or conference presentations


A concrete outcome of the project will be one or two peer reviewed articles, co-authored with the student.


The student will engage in a variety of tasks, relating to research design, data collection and analysis. Specifically, students will assist with:

  1. Literature review to inform the design of research instruments - questionnaires.
  2. Data collection: in-depth interviews, focus groups and surveys
  3. Data entry, processing and coding, using NVivo and SPSS
  4. Data analysis, and presentation of results


Data will be collected in the Philadelphia area, particularly West Philadelphia and South Philly.

Data processing and analysis will take place at the Department of Sociology - 3600 Market Street, Philadelphia


3 days per week: possibly - Monday, Wednesday and Thursday: 10am to 2pm

Interview Availability:

April 10, April 11, April 12