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Tyrel Starks

Ph.D., Southern Illinois University Carbondale


Department of Psychology
Hunter North, Room 941
695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10065


Dr. Starks earned his undergraduate degree from the University of South Dakota (2003) and his doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2009. He is a licensed psychologist in New York State and a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers. Dr. Starks joined the Hunter College faculty in 2014 and is now jointly appointed to the Health Psychology and Clinical Science (HPCS) training program at The Graduate Center. He has taught undergraduate courses in Human Sexuality and Statistics at Hunter as well as doctoral level course in research methods and clinical practicum at the Graduate Center.

Current Areas of Research

My research focuses on substance use and sexual health in sexual minority populations, with a particular emphasis on relationship factors associated with sexual health in gay and bisexual men. I am specifically interested in how relationship partners influence one another's behavior through the formation of shared goals. Couples-based approaches to substance use treatment have long assumed that relationship functioning and drug use are reciprocally associated.  More recently, it has become evident that relationship functioning is associated with sexual behaviors that place sexual minority men at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections as well. 

My team and I seek to develop and test novel interventions for couples and individually-delivered interventions for partnered sexual minority men that reduce drug use and improve sexual health. My portfolio includes a completed R34 (DA036419), in which we developed adjunct components for Couples HIV Testing and Counseling (CHTC) to reduce drug use and enhance communication skills. In addition, I have an ongoing U19 Supplement which funds ATN-156 (Project Leads Starks and Feldstein Ewing) which is extending my previous work on CHTC to adolescent gay couples; an R34 (DA043422) which aims to develop a Motivational Interviewing-based couples intervention targeting substance use and sexual HIV transmission risk behavior in emerging adult gay couples; an ongoing R01 (DA045613) testing the efficacy of an individually-delivered MI-based intervention for partnered men targeting drug use and sexual HIV transmission risk behavior.


Current grant-funded studies

Tyrel J. Starks & Sarah Feldstein Ewing, Project Co-Leads; Enhancing sexual safety: Couples communication and HIV testing among YMSM. ATN-156;
Grant# U19 HD089875 (PI Naar) funded by the National Institute of Child and Human Development..

Tyrel J. Starks, PI: Intervention to reduce drug use and HIV incidence among high PrEP priority partnered YMSM.
Grant # R01 DA045613. Submitted to National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Tyrel J. Starks, PI: Couples-based intervention to reduce drug use and HIV transmission risk.
Grant # R34 DA043422. Funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse.


Additional grant-funded studies not focused on relationship research

Tyrel J. Starks, PI. Improving HIV and Alcohol-Related Outcomes among HIV+ Persons in Community Settings.
Grant #R01AA022302. Funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Tyrel J. Starks, Project Lead. Effectiveness Implementation Research to Enhance HIV-Related Self-Management among Youth. ATN # 145;
Grant #: U19 HD089875 (PI Naar). Funded by the National Institute on Child and Human Development.

Tyrel J. Starks, PI. Examining community-based effectiveness of a substance use and HIV risk reduction intervention for young men of color
Grant #: R01 DA041262. Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Completed projects

Addressing substance use through CVCT.
Grant # R34 DA036419.  Funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse.


Recent Journal Publications


Castro, M.A., Rosenthal, L., & Starks, T.J. (2019). Enacted individual-level stigma, anticipated relationship stigma, and negative affect among unpartnered sexual minority individuals. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health, 23(1), 63-82. 

John, S.A., Rendina, H.J., Starks, T.J., Grov, C., & Parsons, J.T. (2019). Decisional balance and contemplation ladder to support interventions for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) uptake and persistence. AIDS Patient Care and STDs, 33(2), 67-78.

John, S.A., Robles, G., Starks, T.J. & Rendina, H.J. (2019). Differences between groups of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) using couples in HIV-negative/unknown relationships. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, 81(4), 419-428.

Millar, B.M., Starks, T.J., Rendina, H.J., & Parsons, J.T. (2019). Three reasons to consider the role of tiredness in sexual risk-taking among gay and bisexual men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 48(1), 383-395.

Naar,S., Hudgens,M.G., Brookmeyer, R., Carcone, A., Chapman, J., Chowdhury,S., Ciaranello, A., Comulada, W.S., Ghosh, S., Horvath, K.J., Ingram, L., LeGrand, S., Reback, C.J., Simpson, K., Stanton, B., Starks, T.J., & Swendeman, D. (2019). Improving the Youth HIV Prevention and Care Cascades: Innovative Designs in the Adolescent Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions. AIDS Patient Care and STDs, 8(2), e11204.

Parsons, J.T., Starks, T.J., Gurung, S., Cain, D., Marmo, J., & Naar, S. (in press). Clinic-based delivery of the Young Men's Health project (YMHP) targeting HIV risk reduction and substance use among young men who have sex with men: Protocol for a type 2, hybrid implementation-effectiveness Trial. JMIR Research Protocols, 8(5), e11184.

Rosenthal, L., Deosaran, A., Young, D.L., & Starks, T.J. (2019). Relationship stigma and well-being among adults in interracial and same-sex relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36(11-12) 3408-3428..

Starks, T.J., Doyle, K.M., Shalhav, O., John, S.A., & Parsons, J.T. (2019). An examination of gay couples' motivations to use (or forego) pre-exposure prophylaxis expressed during couples HIV testing and counseling (CHTC) sessions. Prevention Science, 20(1), 157-167.

Starks, T.J., Feldstein Ewing, S.W., Lovejoy, T., Gurung, S., Cain, D., Fan, C.A., Naar, S., & Parsons, J.T. (2019). Adolescent male couples-based HIV testing intervention (We Test): Protocol for a Type 1, Hybrid Implementation-Effectiveness Trial. JMIR Research Protocols, 8(6), e11186.

Starks, T.J., Robles, G., Bosco, S.C., Dellucci, T.V., Grov, C., & Parsons, J.T. (2019). The prevalence and correlates of sexual arrangements in a national cohort of HIV-negative gay and bisexual men.  Archives of Sexual Behavior, 48(1), 369-382.

Starks, T.J., Robles, G., Bosco, B.C., Doyle, K.M., & Dellucci, T.V. (2019). Relationship functioning and substance use in same-sex male couples. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 201, 101-108.

Starks, T. J., Robles, G., Pawson, M., Jimenez, R. H., Gandhi, M., Parsons, J. T., & Millar, B. M. (2019). Motivational Interviewing to reduce drug use and HIV incidence among young men who have sex with men in relationships and are high priority for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (Project PARTNER): Randomized Controlled Trial Protocol. JMIR Research Protocols, 8(7), e13015



Cortopassi, A.C., Wells, B.E., Parsons, J.T., & Starks, T.J. (2018). Linguistic correlates of the Communication Patterns Questionnaire: The correspondence of language and quantitative measures of perceived communication patterns among emerging adult gay male couples. Couples and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 7(3-4), 158-170.

John, S.A., Starks, T.J., Rendina, H.J., Grov, C., & Parsons, J.T. (2018). Should I convince my partner to go on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)?  The role of personal and relationship factors on PrEP-related social control among gay and bisexual men. AIDS and Behavior, 22(4), 1239-1252.

McCumber, M., Cain, D., LeGrand, S., Mayer, K.H., Murphy, D.A., Psioda, M.A., Sena, A.C., Starks, T.J., & Hudgens, M. (2018). The adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions. JMIR Research Protocols, 7(12), e11207.

Moody, R.L., Starks, T.J., Grov, C., & Parsons, J.T. (2018). Internalized homophobia and drug use in a national cohort of gay and bisexual men: Examining depression, sexual anxiety, and gay community attachment as mediating factors. Archives of sexual behavior47(4), 1133-1144.

Parsons, J.T., John, S.A., Millar, B.M., & Starks, T.J. (2018). Testing the efficacy of combined Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behavioral Skills Training to reduce methamphetamine use and improve HIV medication adherence among HIV-positive gay and bisexual men. AIDS and Behavior, 22(8), 2674-2686.

Starks, T.J., Millar, B.M., Doyle, K.M., Bertone, P., O'Hadi, J., & Parsons, J.T. (2018). Motivational Interviewing with couples: A theoretical framework for clinical practice illustrated in substance use and HIV prevention intervention with gay male couples. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 5(4), 490-502.

Starks, T.J., & Parsons, J.T. (2018). Drug use and HIV prevention with young gay and bisexual men: Partnered status predicts intervention response. AIDS and Behavior, 22(9), 2788-2796.

Starks, T.J., Pawson, M., Stephenson, R., Sullivan, P., & Parsons, J.T. (2018). Dyadic qualitative analysis of condom use scripts among emerging adult gay male couples. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 44(3), 269-280.



Cortopassi, A.C., Starks, T.J., Parsons, J.T., & Wells, B.E. (2017). Self-concealment, ego depletion, and drug dependence among young sexual minority men who use substances. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 4(3), 272-281.

Lassiter, J.M., Saleh, L., Starks, T.J., Grov, C., Ventuneac, A., & Parsons, J.T. (2017). Race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, and education are associated with gay and bisexual men's religious and spiritual participation and beliefs: Results from the One Thousand Strong Cohort. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 23(4), 468-476.

Martinez, O., Munoz-Laboy, M., Levine, E., Starks, T.J., Dolezal, C., Dodge, B., Icard, L., Moya, E., Chavez-Baray, S., Rhodes, S.D., & Fernandez, M.I. (2017). Relationship factors associated with sexual risk behavior and high-risk alcohol consumption among Latino MSM: Challenges and opportunities to intervene on HIV risk. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 46(4), 987-999.

Millar, B.M., Starks, T.J., Grov, C., & Parsons, J.T. (2017). Sexual risk-taking in HIV-negative gay and bisexual men increases with depression: Results from a U.S. national study. AIDS and Behavior, 21(6), 1665-1675.

Millar, B.M., Starks, T.J., Gurung, S., & Parsons, J.T. (2017). The Impact of comorbidities and quality of life on health outcomes among older adults living with HIV. AIDS and Behavior. 21(6), 1684-1690.

Parsons, J.T., Millar, B.M., Moody, R.L., Starks, T.J., Rendina, H.J., & Grov, C. (2017). Syndemic conditions and HIV transmission risk behavior among HIV-negative gay and bisexual men in a U.S. national sample. Health Psychology, 36(7), 695-703.

Parsons, J.T., Rendina, H.J., Lassiter, J.M., Whitfield, T.H.F., Starks, T.J., & Grov, C. (2017). Uptake of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in a national sample of gay and bisexual men in the United States: The Motivational PrEP Cascade. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 74(3), 285-292.

Parsons, J.T., Rendina, H.J., Moody, R.L., Gurung, S., Starks, T.J., & Pachankis, J.E. (2017). Feasibility of an emotion regulation intervention to improve mental health and reduce HIV transmission risk behaviors for HIV-positive gay and bisexual men with sexual compulsivity. AIDS and Behavior, 21(6), 1540-1549.

Rendina, H.J., Whitfield, T.H.F., Grov, C., Starks, T.J., & Parsons, J.T. (2017). Distinguishing hypothetical willingness from behavioral intentions to initiate HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP): Findings from a large cohort of gay and bisexual men in the U.S.. Social Science and Medicine, 172 (1), 115-123.

Starks, T.J., Doyle, K.M., Millar, B.M., & Parsons, J.T. (2017). Eriksonian intimacy development, relationship satisfaction, and depression in gay male couples. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 4(2), 241-250.

Starks, T.J., Millar, B.M., Lassiter, J., & Parsons, J.T. (2017). Pre-intervention profiles of information, motivation, and behavioral self-efficacy for methamphetamine use and HIV medication adherence among gay and bisexual men. AIDS Patient Care and STDs, 31(2), 78-86.

Trub, L., Quinlan, E., Starks, T.J., & Rosenthal, L. (2017). Discrimination, internalized homonegativity, and attitudes toward children of same-sex parents: Can secure attachment buffer against stigma internalization? Family Process, 56(3), 701-715.

Trub, L., & Starks, T.J. (2017). Insecure attachments: Attachment, emotional regulation, sexting and condomless sex among women in relationships. Computers in Human Behavior, 17, 140-147.

Trub, L., & Starks, T.J. (2017). Texting under the influence: Emotional regulation as a moderator of the association between binge drinking and drunk texting. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 20(1), 3-9.

Trub, L., & Starks, T.J. (2017). Textual healing: Proof of concept study examining the impact of a mindfulness intervention on smartphone behavior. Mindfulness, 8(5), 1225-1235.


Book Chapters

Starks, T.J., Cabral, C. & Talan, A. (in press). Drug use among sexual and gender minority populations. In Rothblum, E. (Ed). Oxford Handbook of Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health, Oxford University Press.

Starks, T.J., & Millar, B.M. (2017). Special issues in psychotherapy with sexual minority and TGNC adolescents. In K. DeBord, T. Perez, A.R. Fischer, & Bieschke, K. (Eds). Handbook of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity in Counseling and Psychotherapy, APA Books: Washington, DC.