Interview: Quantitative, Qualitative or Versatile


This is where we drag leaders in gay men's health into our Proust spotlight. Get to know your colleagues as they share their work, their passion and a little of their busy lives.

Interview with Barry Adam

Barry Adam

Barry Adam, PhD, University Professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology, University of Windsor, and Senior Scientist and Director of Prevention Research at the Ontario HIV Treatment Network.

1. What is your place of birth?

Yorkton, Saskatchewan

2. How did you get involved in gay men's health?

I had friends, buddies, and exes who fell ill in the early days of the epidemic and was among the founders of the first ASO in my local community.

3. Quantitative, qualitative or versatile?

Primarily qualitative, but am engaged in a number of quantitative studies as well.  Ideally, research from both approaches can have a synergistic effect in improving our understanding as long as the strengths and limitations of each methodology is kept in mind.

4. What social determinant of health impacts gay men the most, do you think?

Ron Stall’s notion of syndemics is an interesting and fruitful hypothesis, but I think it’s important to think of the larger structural context that affects most of our lives.  Many of us experience the need to leave communities and families of origin, either because of “push” factors such as family rejection or a need to escape the homophobic disapproval, if not violence, of small towns, or through “pull” factors of urban migration to hopefully more hospitable social niches.  This need to reconstruct our lives is a creative opportunity but it’s also not always an easy adjustment.  A lot of “risk factors” are rooted in strategies to cope with this transition.

5. What's something that everyone interested in gay men's health should read?

I don’t think the key text is written yet.

6. Do you have a favourite gay bar moment?

The underground drag bars of Havana.

7. If you could poll 10,000 gay men, what two questions would you ask them?

That’s a tough one as I have the luxury of coming up with new questions with each new study.

8. What is the secret to a perfect relationship?

Relationships aren’t perfect and maybe that’s the secret—actually appreciating a partner for his imperfections, for his humanness.

9. How would you describe your current work?

Still looking for ways of bringing down HIV rates that continue unabated in our communities.

10. What's the last piece of writing you did on gay health?

Barry D Adam. 2011. “Epistemic fault lines in biomedical and social approaches to HIV prevention” Journal of the International AIDS Society 14 (Supplement 2):S2.

Barry D Adam, Gerardo Betancourt, and Angel Serrano Sánchez. 2011. “Development of an HIV prevention and life skills program for Spanish speaking gay and bisexual newcomers” Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality 20 (1):11-17.

Barry D Adam, James Murray, Suzanne Ross, Jason Oliver, Stephen G Lincoln, and Vicki Rynard. 2011. “Hivstigma.­com, an innovative web-supported stigma-reduction intervention for gay and bisexual men” Health Education Research 26 (5):795-807.

11. What gay man do you most admire?

Leonardo da Vinci.

12. Where would you like to see gay men's health in five years?

More dedicated researchers in the area; better engagement with the moving sexual cultures of our diverse communities.

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