Stephanie L. Marhefka, Ph.D.
LRC 212, MDC 56
Education and History
Came to USF
B.Phl. Miami University, 1997
M.S. University of Florida, 1999
Ph.D. University of Florida, 2002
Psychology Intern University of Maryland, 2002
Post-Doctoral Fellowship University of Maryland, 2003
NIMH Post-Doctoral Fellowship Columbia University, 2007
Social & Behavioral Sciences
Dr. Marhefka’s research focuses on primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention related to one of the most critical public health problems of our time—HIV/AIDS. Much of her work has been related to secondary and tertiary HIV prevention, including: 1) Assessing and understanding adherence to HIV-related medication regimens; 2) Understanding and addressing the psychosocial, behavioral, and sexual health needs of youth and adults living with and those at risk for HIV infection; and 3) Using technology to increase access to effective behavioral interventions among people living with HIV. Since arriving at USF in 2007, Dr. Marhefka has led research related to the sexual health and intervention needs of young and adult women living with HIV (WLH). In June 2010, Dr. Marhefka received an R34 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to determine acceptability and feasibility of video-group delivery of Healthy Relationships, a CDC-defined Effective Behavioral Intervention (EBI) for reducing stress, increasing disclosure decision-making skills, and reducing unsafe sexual behavior among women living with HIV (WLH). Currently, access to some EBIs is limited to mostly urban areas in which a large number of people can attend the programs in-person. The goal of this study is to determine if access to group-based EBIs could be expanded by adding video-group delivery as an option. For this study, WLH will access the EBI at intervention stations located within community-based organizations that serve WLH (i.e., AIDS Service Organizations or public health clinics). Intervention stations are private rooms equipped with a desk, chair, special video-phone, headset, and dedicated internet line. During the intervention delivery, each participant sits at their own intervention station and views the other participants and the facilitators in real-time over the video-phone, while listening through a headset. Ultimately, if this video-group approach is successful for WLH, Dr. Marhefka hopes to test possibilities for using video-groups and other technological strategies to expand access to other effective and much-needed public health interventions.