Senior Scientist, Social and Behavioral Sciences Core: Paul Poppen, PhD

Dr. Poppen picture
April 25, 2016

For Paul Poppen, PhD, his transition into HIV/AIDS work can largely be credited to George Washington and its faculty. Now a professor and Assistant Director of the  Latino Health Research Center (LHRC) in the Department of Psychology in the Colombian College of Arts and Sciences at GW and DC CFAR Senior Scientist in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Core, Dr. Poppen focuses on HIV infection in Latino populations and testing behaviors.

With a passion for computation and gender roles and a Ph.D. in Personality and Social Psychology from Cornell University, Dr. Poppen’s early work focused around reproductive health and gender roles. He came to GW in 1973, working on an American Public Health Association study focusing on young men and women’s fertility intentions and condom use in the context of reproduction. Then, when the HIV/AIDS epidemic began in the United States, Dr. Poppen easily transitioned these research interests towards exploring sexual and condom behaviors in college aged individuals as it related to HIV/AIDS. Then, in the late 1980’s, Dr. Poppen began collaborating with Carol Reisen and Maria Cecilia Zea through the newly formed Latino Health Research Center, focusing on HIV risk among MSM in Latino populations.

Today, Dr. Poppen focuses on two main research interests: how to utilize the features of the situation in which contraception occurs when designing intervention programs, as well as HIV testing in MSM populations in the United States and Colombia. In Colombia, Dr. Poppen’s research centers around the Information Avoidance Theory and the motivations behind HIV testing in MSM populations. He has begun to use this research to develop a Telenovela to motivate men to get tested regularly and to serve as a platform by which to educate Colombians on the importance and advantages to knowing your HIV status. In the future, Dr. Poppen hopes to expand his research in HIV testing to other ethnicities and areas of the world outside of Latin America and the U.S., using innovative and novel solutions to help stop to spread of the epidemic.  

In his role as a Senior Scientist in the DC CFAR SBS Core, Dr. Poppen truly believes that the CFAR has produced more of a spirit of cooperation amongst a variety of different researchers. He expresses that “the existence of the DC CFAR has been really wonderful for the growth of HIV research and for all those working in HIV.” In the future, Dr. Poppen looks to continue cultivating general collaboration amongst those in the HIV community, as well as focus heavily on highly impacted populations to minimize the risk of HIV and help end the epidemic.