Following the development of the U.S.-India Partnership for Sexual Health Promotion, Drs. Brian Dodge and Swagata Banik, and doctoral student Jessamyn Bowling, from the Center for Sexual Health Promotion traveled to Delhi, India, to meet with academic and community partners from The Humsafar Trust (the oldest and largest agency on the Indian subcontinent serving the health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, hijra, and other gender and sexual minority communities). The meeting was convened at the newly-opened Indiana University Gateway Office in Gurgaon, a lovely tree-lined technologically-oriented suburb of Delhi. In fact, the delegation's visit marked the first meeting at the IU India Office since the facility was opened by Indiana University President Michael McRobbie on October 30, 2014!
The primary goal of the partnership is to facilitate new opportunities for advancing the field of sexual health through collaborative and community-based research, education and training initiatives among colleagues on both continents. With institutional and core financial support from the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs and the Institute for Advanced Study at Indiana University, the members of this unique initiative are hoping to expand their efforts to work with a wide range of sexual health issues and priority populations in geographical areas and contexts throughout India.
One of the primary aims of the meeting was to review progress on two ongoing exploratory studies that focus on: sexual health among bisexual men in Mumbai (PIs: Brian Dodge & Swagata Banik), and 2. sexual health needs and priorities among sexual minority women in India (PIs: Jessamyn Bowling & Shruta Mengle). Both projects have reached the phase of data analysis and interpretation; preliminary findings are currently in preparation for publication and the production of subsequent funding proposals. In addition, plans are underway for exploring opportunities for future sexual health promotion education, training, and exchange activities for both IU students and Humsafar Trust affiliates, beginning with an online sexual health research methods course. A copy of the agenda from the December 15-17, 2014, meeting may be found here.
With careful preliminary guidance from the IU India Office academic director in Bloomington, Dr. Michael Dodson, as well as meticulous attention on the ground in Delhi from the IU India Office Manager, Ms. Shalini Choubey, the partnership meeting was not only delightful but a smashing success. The exceptional facilities and idyllic setting make the IU India Office a jewel in the crown of the global Indiana University system. We are grateful to the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs for their investment in our intiative and look forward to using the Gateway Office for a wide range of sexual health research, education, and training activities in the future.