La Salle News

La Salle University Public Health Professor Jillian Lucas Baker Seeking Ways to Stop the Spread of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections

March 10, 2014

With a grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH), La Salle University public health professor Jillian Lucas Baker, DrPH, is developing ways to stop the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted infections among young, African-American males

Baker received a Diversity Minority Supplement award to conduct her study, “Sexual Risk Communication between African American Fathers and Sons,” funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the NIH.

“My research to date has assessed the feasibility of developing and implementing a sexual risk communication intervention program for African-American fathers or father figures and adolescent sons,” she said. “I recently completed the elicitation research phase of my project. Six focus groups were conducted with 30 African-American father/son pairs.”

Participants were recruited from referrals via barbershops, community-based organizations, and clinics. All of the focus groups were held at a barbershop in West Philadelphia, Baker said.

“The focus groups provided a deeper understanding of the factors that facilitated or hindered father-son sexual risk communication and how this communication influences sexual beliefs and behaviors of male youth,” she said.

Baker is an assistant professor of public health at La Salle’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences. She joined the faculty in 2011.

Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine recently named Baker an emerging scholar (http://diverseeducation.com/article/60075/).

She developed an interest in public health while a psychology major at the University of Pennsylvania. She was unsure of a career path until her junior year, when she took a class on human sexuality taught by nursing professor Loretta Sweet-Jemmott. That class, she said, sparked her initial interest in HIV and sexual health.

Impressed by Baker’s performance in her class, Jemmott encouraged her to work as a research coordinator with her husband, John Jemmott, then Director of the Center for Health Behavior and Communication Research at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I worked on coordinating HIV/STI prevention programs for middle school students in public schools in Philadelphia,” she said.

Baker holds a doctorate in public health from Drexel University with a concentration in community health and prevention. She is also a trained community mental health counselor with a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.Ed. from Temple University. She completed one year of postdoctoral training at the National Center on Fathers and Families at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania.

La Salle University was established in 1863 through the legacy of St. John Baptist de La Salle and the Christian Brothers teaching order, which St. La Salle founded in 1680. La Salle is an educational community shaped by traditional Catholic and Lasallian values. The University is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 30 schools in the North Region and among the top 10 Catholic schools in the region.




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