American Sociological Association

Sociology in Action: Magdalena Szaflarski

Magdalena Szaflarski, University of Alabama at Birmingham (formerly at the University of Cincinnati), worked with the organization IV-CHARIS in Cincinnati, OH, to address HIV prevention. ASA asked Szaflarski about her work:

What is the mission of IV-CHARIS? IV-CHARIS delivers comprehensive HIV prevention programming that includes counseling, testing, and referral services. IV-CHARIS works in correctional institutions, community-based and faith-based organizations, and partners with medical providers. One of IV-CHARIS's main goals is to empower youth with vital educational tools and accurate, scientific information motivating them toward healthy lifestyle choices.

Could you describe your involvement with the organization? Within a framework of an academic-community partnership, this project assessed a Black faith-community’s needs and opportunities to address HIV. We used concept mapping to identify/prioritize specific HIV-related strategies that would be acceptable to congregations. Ninety stakeholders brainstormed strategies to address HIV; 21 sorted strategies into groups and rated their importance and feasibility. Multidimensional scaling and cluster analysis were applied to the sorting to produce maps that illustrated the stakeholders’ conceptual thinking about HIV interventions. Of 278 responses, 93 were used in the sorting task. The visual maps represented eight clusters: church acceptance of people living with HIV; education (most feasible); mobilization and communication; church/leaders’ empowerment; church involvement/collaboration; safety/HIV prevention; media outreach; and stigma (most important). Concept mapping clarified multifaceted issues of HIV in the Black faith community. The results will guide HIV programming in congregations.

What sociological knowledge and/or skills did you use? The work was informed by minority health, sociology of religion, and community mobilization perspectives. The project was also guided by the principles of community engagement and community-engaged research. Sociological mixed methods for data collection and analysis were used in the project and included concept mapping, multidimensional scaling, and cluster analysis.

How did you connect with IV-CHARIS? Through the University of Cincinnati Infectious Diseases Center (IDC), I worked with IDC on HIV-related research and connected with IV-CHARIS as one of the community organizations affiliated with IDC to partner with and conduct community-based HIV research.

Duration of the project? One year.

Is there anything else you would like to share about this work? This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training (CCTST) at the University of Cincinnati. Free full-text research articles published from this work, including a research paper co-authored with community members, are available at and