Much of my earliest work focused on cutting-edge questions within HIV/AIDS policy, prevention, and service delivery. Some examples of these studies include:
I have also written on the social effects of US healthcare provision and reform more broadly, including on the role of clinical trials in providing access to basic health care for a subset of the US population and on the case for considering the social spillover effects of health policies such as the Affordable Care Act (both with Stefan Timmermans).
As my interests and opportunities have expanded, I currently work more broadly as an interdisciplinaryscholar of LGBT health and policy.
I am also key faculty in Vanderbilt's newLGBT Policy Research Lab and on a two-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study the effects of LGBT policies on access to healthcare and insurance for LGBT individuals and families.
In addition to US domestic LGBT policy and health projects, I also study LGBT health and policy at the United Nations and in African countries. I currently have projects related to LGBT health, rights, policy, and organizing in Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Senegal.
This research focus grew out of my dissertation work on global HIV policy priorities targeting men who have sex with men and addresses several related questions of interest to scholars working in global/transnational sociology and the sociology of gender and sexualities. Specifically, I address questions pertaining to the inner workings of global governance organizations such as the World Health Organization and UNAIDS; to the understanding, adoption and implementation of global policy recommendations at the national level in African countries; and to the links among LGBT issues and other social, political, and economic issues in African countries that have been pursuing regressive policies targeting LGBT populations.
My key contributions in this area have challenged understandings of policy diffusion, adoption, and implementation; extended theory on LGBT social movement organizations in the global South; and worked to make sense of the effects of global and national policy on LGBT individuals and perceptions of them in African countries.
As part of this work, I have interviewed global policymakers, country and NGO representatives at the UN and UNAIDS, as well as national government officials, HIV/AIDS organization representatives, and African LGBT activists in several African countries.
I have also compiled three original datasets, including: 1) a dataset that codes six waves of UN Country Progress Report narratives for a country’s level of inclusion of gay and bisexual men, sex workers, and injection drug users in national HIV/AIDS prevention, policy, and surveillance, 2) a nationally representative survey of Malawians’ attitudes toward homosexuality, and 3) an archival dataset of news media articles referencing homosexuality in five African countries and counting from 2000 to 2015. Read more about these datasets on the Data page.
My current work in this area includes a collaboration with Claude Fischer (UC Berkeley, Sociology) on the UC Networks Study, a longitudinal study funded by the National Institute on Aging of how social networks and health affect and are affected by life events among LGBT-identified 50 to 70 year-olds living in the Bay Area.
My research examines the effects of health policy for marginalized individuals and communities, with a strong focus on LGBT people, families, and communities in the US and African contexts.
Copyright Tara McKay 2017. All rights reserved.