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The Ballroom Community Project: Social Networks and Social Support for
Young African American MSM
Investigator: Emily A. Arnold
Project Partners: David L. Williams and Edward Blount
This research investigates the relationship between social networks, social support, and HIV-
related risk behavior among young African American MSM who participate in the Ballroom
community. The Ballroom community consists of houses, figurative and sometimes literal
homes, for queer youth of color, and the elaborate balls they host and compete in. The Ballroom
community exists in urban centers across the US, and provides African American queer youth
with support for same-sex desire and identity, along with multiple forms of support for HIV
prevention.
This research looks at the forms of social support that young men receive through their
involvement in the community, particularly with regard to HIV-related risk behavior. The study
will be carried out in three phases:
1) an ethnographic phase to determine the forms social networks and social support take
with young African American MSM in the Ballroom community;
2) a phase to develop and adapt appropriate scales of social networks and social support for
a young African American MSM population; and
3) a cross-sectional survey of social networks within young African American
MSM Ballroom communities to determine the association of social networks and social support
with HIV-related risk behavior. The data accumulated during this study will be used as the basis
for developing an intervention tailored specifically to the Ballroom community. Approximately
300 young African American MSM will be recruited into the study, which will take place in the
San Francisco Bay Area.

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The ballroom community project

  • 1. The Ballroom Community Project: Social Networks and Social Support for Young African American MSM Investigator: Emily A. Arnold Project Partners: David L. Williams and Edward Blount This research investigates the relationship between social networks, social support, and HIV- related risk behavior among young African American MSM who participate in the Ballroom community. The Ballroom community consists of houses, figurative and sometimes literal homes, for queer youth of color, and the elaborate balls they host and compete in. The Ballroom community exists in urban centers across the US, and provides African American queer youth with support for same-sex desire and identity, along with multiple forms of support for HIV prevention. This research looks at the forms of social support that young men receive through their involvement in the community, particularly with regard to HIV-related risk behavior. The study will be carried out in three phases: 1) an ethnographic phase to determine the forms social networks and social support take with young African American MSM in the Ballroom community; 2) a phase to develop and adapt appropriate scales of social networks and social support for a young African American MSM population; and 3) a cross-sectional survey of social networks within young African American MSM Ballroom communities to determine the association of social networks and social support with HIV-related risk behavior. The data accumulated during this study will be used as the basis for developing an intervention tailored specifically to the Ballroom community. Approximately 300 young African American MSM will be recruited into the study, which will take place in the San Francisco Bay Area.