Harmony Rhoades joined USC as a postdoctoral research associate in 2010. She was previously a pre-doctoral trainee in the UCLA Service Systems for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS Research Training Program. Her research interests include the intersection of numerous social and biological factors that may influence health outcomes, including housing and homelessness, social networks, gender, sexuality, mental health, and substance use..
As Research Faculty, Rhoades is an active collaborator with prominent faculty dedicated to understanding and ending homelessness and improving health and mental health for marginalized populations. She has served as Co-Investigator on several NIH-funded research projects focused on homelessness, social relationships, aging, substance use, mental health, and sexual and gender minority populations.
University of California, Los Angeles: Ph.D. 2010
University of California, Los Angeles: M.S. 2010
University of California, Los Angeles: M.A. 2005
University of California, San Diego: B.A. 2003
Areas of Expertise (6)
Sexual and Gender Identity
Industry Expertise (3)
Writing and Editing
Articles & Publications (7)
Permanent supportive housing (PSH) has been recognized as an effective intervention and the national policy for addressing chronic homelessness in the United States. Due to an aging cohort of homeless adults and prioritizing those who are most vulnerable for housing, the health status of those entering PSH is likely worse than those previously reported in the literature.
Homeless adults experience increased risk of negative health outcomes, and technology-based interventions may provide an opportunity for improving health in this population. However, little is known about homeless adults’ technology access and use. Utilizing data from a study of 421 homeless adults moving into PSH, this paper presents descriptive technology findings, and compares results to age-matched general population data. The vast majority (94%) currently owned a cell phone, although there was considerable past 3-month turnover in phones (56%) and phone numbers (55%). More than half currently owned a smartphone, and 86% of those used Android operating systems. Most (85%) used a cell phone daily, 76% used text messaging, and 51% accessed the Internet on their cell phone. One-third reported no past 3-month Internet use. These findings suggest that digital technology may be a feasible means of disseminating health and wellness programs to this at-risk population, though important caveats are discussed.
Young men who have sex with men (YMSM) are increasingly using mobile smartphone applications (“apps”), such as Grindr, to meet sex partners. A probability sample of 195 Grindr-using YMSM in Southern California were administered an anonymous online survey to assess patterns of and motivations for Grindr use in order to inform development and tailoring of smartphone-based HIV prevention for YMSM. The number one reason for using Grindr (29 %) was to meet “hook ups.” Among those participants who used both Grindr and online dating sites, a statistically significantly greater percentage used online dating sites for “hook ups” (42 %) compared to Grindr (30 %). Seventy percent of YMSM expressed a willingness to participate in a smartphone app-based HIV prevention program. Development and testing of smartphone apps for HIV prevention delivery has the potential to engage YMSM in HIV prevention programming, which can be tailored based on use patterns and motivations for use.
Permanent supportive housing (PSH) has been recognized by the U.S. federal government as the “clear solution” to chronic homelessness. Whether and how access to PSH affects HIV risk is unclear. This mixed methods pilot study uses a convergent parallel design in order to better understand social relationships and HIV risk during the transition from homelessness to PSH. Findings suggest that (a) Sexual activity and HIV risk behaviors increase with housing, (b) Social network size and composition appear to change as individuals transition into PSH, and (c) There is tension between moving forward and leaving behind the past once a person has housing. This study demonstrates that PSH constitutes a specific risk environment that has not been previously investigated.
OBJECTIVE: It is unknown if “sexting” (ie, sending/receiving sexually explicit cell phone text or picture messages) is associated with sexual activity and sexual risk behavior among early adolescents, as has been found for high school students. To date, no published data have examined these relationships exclusively among a probability sample of middle school students.
HIV is a serious epidemic among homeless persons, where rates of infection are estimated to be three times higher than in the general population. HIV testing is an effective tool for reducing HIV transmission and for combating poor HIV/AIDS health outcomes that disproportionately affect homeless persons, however, little is known about the HIV testing behavior of homeless men. This study examined the association between individual (HIV risk) and structural (service access) factors and past year HIV testing. Participants were a representative sample of 305 heterosexually active homeless men interviewed from meal programs in the Skid Row region of Los Angeles. Logistic regression examined the association between past year HIV testing and demographic characteristics, HIV risk behavior, and access to other services in the Skid Row area in the past 30 days. Despite high rates of past year HIV testing, study participants also reported high rates of HIV risk behavior, suggesting there is still significant unmet need for HIV prevention among homeless men. Having recently used medical/dental services in the Skid Row area (OR: 1.91; CI: 1.09, 3.35), and being a military veteran (OR: 2.10; CI: 1.01-4.37) were significantly associated with HIV testing service utilization. HIV testing was not associated with HIV risk behavior, but rather with access to services and veteran status, the latter of which prior research has linked to increased service access. We suggest that programs encouraging general medical service access may be important for disseminating HIV testing services to this high-risk, vulnerable population.
Sexual concurrency poses significant HIV/STI transmission risk. The correlates of concurrency have not been examined among homeless men. A representative sample of 305 heterosexually active homeless men utilizing meal programs in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles reported on their mental health, substance use, and social network characteristics. Nearly 40% of men reported concurrency with one of their four most recent sex partners. Results indicated that HIV seropositivity (OR = 4.39, CI: 1.10, 17.46; P = 0.04), PTSD (OR = 2.29, CI: 1.05, 5.01; P = 0.04), hard drug use (OR = 2.45, CI: 1.07, 5.58; P = 0.03), and the perception that network alters engage in risky sex (OR = 3.72, CI: 1.49, 9.30; P = 0.01) were associated with increased odds of concurrency. Programs aimed at reducing HIV/STI transmission in this vulnerable population must take into account the roles that behavioral health and social networks may play in sexual concurrency.