Sherry Deren

Senior Research Scientist
Co-Director, CDUHR

1 212 998 9015

433 First Avenue
Room 750
New York, NY 10010
United States

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Professional overview

Sherry Deren, Ph.D. is the Co-Director of the NIDA-funded P30 Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR), located at the New York University (NYU) College of Nursing. Dr. Deren is a social psychologist, and has been Principal Investigator for many NIDA-funded research projects related to drug use and HIV. Her recent research interests have included multi-disciplinary studies on the impact of drug injection on immune activation, and multi-level influences on HIV risk behaviors among Puerto Rican drug users in Puerto Rico and NYC. CDUHR, focused on the socio-behavioral study of drug use-HIV/AIDS, has been funded since 1998, and provides a research infrastructure to support over 70 research projects and over 80 investigators, at NYU and affiliated institutions, related to the Center’s theme: “Discovery to Implementation & Back: Research Translation for the HIV/Substance Use Epidemic.” Dr. Deren is a co-founder and steering committee member of the New York HIV Research Centers Consortium, comprised of over 25 HIV Research Centers in the New York tri-State area. She has served on numerous NIH research review committees, and is an author of over 150 articles related to HIV/AIDS among high-risk substance users.

Ph.D., Social Psychology
Infectious disease
Substance use
Professional membership
American Psychological Association
Society of Psychologists in Addictive behaviors
American Public Health Association
New York Academy of Medicine

Challenges in Recruiting People Who Use Drugs for HIV-Related Biomedical Research: Perspectives from the Field.

Batista, P., Deren, S., Banfield, A., Silva, E., Cruz, M., Garnes, P., … Markowitz, M. (2016). AIDS patient care and STDs 30, (379-84). 10.1089/apc.2016.0135

Recruitment of people who use drugs (PWUD) for HIV-related research has been undertaken since early in the epidemic. In early studies, recruitment was often performed by outreach workers with familiarity with the target population, who distributed risk reduction materials, and administered the surveys being conducted on drug use and risk behaviors. The evolution of effective treatments for HIV has provided opportunities for PWUD to participate in biobehavioral studies testing the efficacy of medical treatment advances and exploring the underlying biomedical basis for prevention and treatment efforts. Recruitment for these studies has led to new challenges for outreach workers and institutions conducting this research. PWUD, particularly those from race/ethnic minority populations, have had lower rates of engagement in HIV care and have been underrepresented in HIV/AIDS medical studies. To address these health disparities, enhanced efforts are needed to increase their participation in biomedical studies. This article examines the challenges identified by experienced outreach workers in recruiting PWUD for HIV-related biomedical studies, including individual (participant)-, institutional-, and recruiter-level challenges, and provides recommendations for addressing them.

Mapping the Air-Bridge Locations: The Application of Ethnographic Mapping Techniques to a Study of HIV Risk Behavior Determinant in East Harlem, New York, and Bayamón, Puerto Rico

Oliver-Velez, D., Finlinson, H.A., Deren, S., Robles, R.R., Shedlin, M., Andía, J., & Colón, H. (2015). Human Organization 61, (262-276). 10.17730/humo.61.3.99nm1tuxan9yd7ap Society for Applied Anthropology.

Opioid Use Trajectories, Injection Drug Use, and Hepatitis C Virus Risk Among Young Adult Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union Living in New York City.

Guarino, H., Marsch, L. A., Deren, S., Straussner, S. L., & Teper, A. (2015). Journal of addictive diseases 34, (162-77). 10.1080/10550887.2015.1059711

Available evidence suggests that young former Soviet Union immigrants in New York City have high rates of non-medical prescription opioid and heroin use, drug injection and injection-related risk behavior, making them vulnerable to hepatitis C virus (HCV)/human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, overdose and associated harms. This group has been the focus of little research, however. This paper presents quantitative and qualitative data from 80 former Soviet immigrants (ages 18-29) to characterize their opioid use trajectories, injection risk behavior, HCV/HIV testing histories and self-reported HCV/HIV serostatus, and provides clinically meaningful data to inform tailored education, prevention and harm reduction interventions.

Addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic among Puerto Rican people who inject drugs: the need for a multiregion approach.

Deren S, Gelpí-Acosta C, Albizu-García CE, González Á, Des Jarlais DC, Santiago-Negrón S. (2014). 104, (2030-2036.).

Conducting peer outreach to migrants: outcomes for drug treatment patients.

Deren, S., Kang, S. Y., Mino, M., & Guarino, H. (2012). Journal of immigrant and minority health 14, (251-8). 10.1007/s10903-011-9467-4

Peer outreach models have been successful in addressing HIV risk behaviors of drug users. Patients in methadone maintenance treatment programs who were migrants from Puerto Rico and/or familiar with drug use there were trained to conduct HIV-related peer outreach. A group randomized design was implemented; patients in the Experimental (E) condition (n = 80) received training and conducted 12 weeks of outreach. Half of the patients completed the training and outreach. At follow-up, patients in the E condition who conducted outreach felt they were more helpful to their community, showed a trend for engaging in more vocational activities, and were more likely to talk with others about HIV, compared to those who did not conduct outreach and those in the Control condition (n = 78). Drug treatment patients who are migrants can be trained as peer outreach workers and short-term benefits were found. Longer term maintenance of benefits should be assessed.

Attitudes of methadone program staff toward provision of harm-reduction and other services.

Deren, S., Kang, S. Y., Mino, M., & Seewald, R. M. (2011). Journal of addiction medicine 5, (289-92). 10.1097/ADM.0b013e31821dc61a

The need for expansion of health services provided in drug treatment programs has been widely discussed since the beginning of the HIV epidemic among drug users. Service expansion has focused on various types of services including medical services (eg, primary care) and harm-reduction services (eg, provision of sterile syringes).

HIV risk and prevention among Hispanic immigrants in New York: the salience of diversity.

Deren, S., Shedlin, M., Kang, S. Y., & Cortés, D. E. (2011). Substance use & misuse 46, (254-63). 10.3109/10826084.2011.523215

The importance of identifying differences in HIV risk between Hispanic subgroups is the focus of this article. Data are drawn from two New York?based HIV-related studies: among Puerto Rican drug users and among new immigrants from Central America, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico. Results indicated that intercultural individuals (i.e., those involved in both Puerto Rican and mainland cultures) were less risky in terms of injection- and sex-related risk behaviors and that geographic and other contextual factors, along with cultural norms, influence risk behaviors for immigrants. Both studies indicate the need to differentiate subgroup factors affecting HIV risk and prevention behaviors to develop appropriate and effective community-based interventions. The study's limitations are noted.

Migrant drug users: predictors of HIV-related sexual and injection risk behaviors.

Deren, S., Kang, S. Y., Mino, M., & Guarino, H. (2010). Journal of immigrant and minority health 12, (179-86). 10.1007/s10903-008-9218-3

Puerto Rican drug users recruited in NY who previously used drugs in Puerto Rico (PR) have been found to have higher HIV injection and sex-related risk behaviors than those who had not used in PR. This study examined predictors of risk among migrant Puerto Rican drug users. (For the purpose of this paper, the term "migrant" was used to designate Puerto Rican drug users who had used drugs in Puerto Rico and were recruited in New York or New Jersey).

The impact of syringe deregulation on sources of syringes for injection drug users: preliminary findings.

Deren, S., Cleland, C. M., Fuller, C., Kang, S. Y., Des Jarlais, D. C., & Vlahov, D. (2006). AIDS and behavior 10, (717-21). 10.1007/s10461-006-9096-4

In 2001, New York State enacted legislation to allow the provision of syringes by pharmacies and healthcare providers without prescription (ESAP, the Expanded Syringe Access Demonstration Program). A longitudinal study of IDUs (n=130) found that pre-ESAP, about half used only the safest source (needle exchange programs [NEPs]). Post-ESAP implementation, ESAP sources were initiated by 14%. Frequency of injection was related to ESAP use and those who used unsafe (or possibly unsafe) sources were as likely to use ESAP as those who had previously used only NEPs. The findings indicate that providing multiple sources of safe syringes for IDUs is necessary.

Receptive syringe sharing among injection drug users in Harlem and the Bronx during the New York State Expanded Syringe Access Demonstration Program.

Pouget ER, Deren S, Fuller CM, Blaney S, McMahon JM, Kang SY, Tortu S, Andia JF, Des Jarlais DC, Vlahov D. (2005). J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. (39(4):471-7.).

Research challenges to the study of HIV/AIDS among migrant and immigrant Hispanic populations in the United States.

Deren, S., Shedlin, M., Decena, C. U., & Mino, M. (2005). Journal of urban health : bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 82, (iii13-25). 10.1093/jurban/jti060

Migrant populations have been found to be at risk of HIV/AIDS. The growth in immigrant and migrant Hispanic populations in the United States increases the need to enhance understanding of influences on their HIV-risk behaviors. Four challenges to conducting research among these populations were identified: (1) the need to use multilevel theoretical frameworks; (2) the need to differentiate between Hispanic subgroups; (3) challenges to recruitment and data collection; and (4) ethical issues. This article describes how two studies of Hispanic immigrants and migrants in the New York area addressed these challenges. One study focused on new immigrants from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, and a second study focused on Puerto Rican drug users. Both studies incorporated qualitative and quantitative methods to study these hard-to-reach populations. Continued study of the sociocultural and contextual factors affecting HIV risk for mobile populations, and addressing the research challenges, is crucial to developing effective intervention programs.

HIV incidence among high-risk Puerto Rican drug users: a comparison of East Harlem, New York, and Bayamón, Puerto Rico.

Deren S, Kang SY, Colón HM, Andia JF, Robles RR. (2004). J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. (36(5):1067-1074).

Integrating qualitative and quantitative methods: comparing HIV-related risk behaviors among Puerto Rican drug users in Puerto Rico and New York.

Deren S, Oliver-Velez D, Finlinson A, Robles R, Andia J, Colón HM, Kang SY, Shedlin M. (2003). Subst Use Misuse. (38(1):1-24.).

Behavioural, Mucosal and Systemic Immune Parameters in HIV-infected and Uninfected Injection Drug Users.

Mehandru, S., Deren, S., Kang, S. Y., Banfield, A., Garg, A., Garmon, D., … Markowitz, M. Journal of addiction research & therapy 6, (1-8). 10.4172/2155-6105.1000257

Injection drug use (IDU) remains a major risk factor for HIV-1 acquisition. The complex interplay between drug use, non-sterile injection, and Hepatitis C remains poorly understood. We conducted a pilot study to determine the effect of IDU on immune parameters among HIV-uninfected and -infected individuals. We hypothesized that IDU could further augment immunological changes associated with HIV-1 infection, which could in turn affect HIV pathogenesis.