Leah Varga, Ph.D.
Ph.D. University of Miami
MA University of Miami
B.A. University of Miami
I am a Public Health Analyst and the HIV Services Planner at the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and Tuberculosis Administration at the District of Columbia Department of Health. Drawing upon 20 years of experiences in health research with minority populations, I participate in developing and implementing plans to increase HIV services in underserved areas and conduct needs assessments to identify gaps and determine funding priorities for services. I have had the opportunity to be involved in HIV prevention and testing initiatives with at-risk adolescents, gang members, injection drug users, men who have sex with men, migrant workers, Latinas, club drug users, and most recently, street-based sex workers. Additionally, I worked on longitudinal projects examining coping behaviors of low-income breast cancer patients and access to care and treatment among Caribbeans living with HIV/AIDS. Having served as a recruiter, field coordinator, assessor, interventionist, and project director on these various projects solidified my capability and commitment to all aspects of the research process. This exposure also has influenced my interest in the role race/ethnicity, discrimination, socioeconomic status, and structural issues have on health and the experience of health.
I prefer qualitative and mixed method approaches to understanding the health needs, barriers, definitions, and experiences of disadvantaged communities and the ideologies that maintain inequitable systems. More specifically, my current research interests include: exploring informal health care networks; social-spatial influences on health; and examining links between health and the natural and built environment.