Nicole Pepper

Nicole Pepper is a doctoral student in the UCSD-SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Interdisciplinary Research on Substance Use.  She received her Masters of Science in Social Work in policy at Columbia University with a focus on contemporary social issues.  With over a decade of clinical and research experience in the field of HIV, Nicole has worked closely with underserved communities including ethnic minorities, women and youth living with HIV.  Her current area of research focuses on the intersection of substance use, mental health and HIV.  Nicole's research on syringe exchange and overdose prevention with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation led to citywide policy change.  During her graduate studies in New York City, she worked with the Harm Reduction Coalition on national policy and advocacy to promote the health and dignity of individuals and communities impacted by drug use.  

At UCSF, Nicole served as project director for a NIDA-funded multi-site clinical trial utilizing Motivational Interviewing in a methadone setting to support HIV and hepatitis C treatment.  This work focused on expanding care access and addressing health disparities.  She currently serves in a clinical and research role at the UCSD Mother Child Adolescent HIV Program, including supporting a federally-funded demonstration project on an integrative care model for HIV-positive women who are parenting and using substances.  Additionally, she serves as a therapist for LGBT youth living with HIV.  Guiding Nicole's work is an interest in understanding the interplay of micro- and macro-level factors to impact both personal and structural change.

Currently Nicole is conducting HIV research on Latinos living with HIV in the U.S.-Mexico border region. She is also a member of a multidisciplinary U.S.-Brazilian research team that is developing a study to characterize and reduce the burden of HIV, tuberculosis and crack epidemics among marginalized communities in Brazil.

Research interests include: structural stigma and sexual minority youth; HIV; health disparities; substance abuse in HIV-positive women and youth; trauma-informed interventions for co-occurring disorders.

Peer-Reviewed Publications:

1. Jordan, A.E., Masson, C.L., Mateu-Gelabert, P., McKnight, C., Pepper, N., Bouche, K.,…Perlman, D.C. (2013). Perceptions of drug users regarding hepatitis C screening and care: A qualitative study. Harm Reduction Journal, 10(10). doi: 10.1186/1477-7517-10-10.
2. Masson, C.L. , Delucchi, K.L., McKnight, C., Hettema, J., Khalili, M., Min, A., Jordan, A.E., Pepper, N., Hall, J., Hengl, N.S., Young, C., Shopshire, M.S., Manuel, J.K., Coffin, L., Hammer, H., Shapiro, B., Seewald, R.M., Bodenheimer, H.C., Sorensen, J.L., Des Jarlais, D.C., and Perlman, D.C. (2013). A randomized trial of a hepatitis care coordination model in methadone maintenance treatment. American Journal of Public Health, 103(10), e81-e88. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.30148.

Selected Peer-Reviewed Abstracts:

1. Pepper, N., Lewis J. and Zúñiga, M.L. (2016, December). A trauma-informed approach to serving HIV+ women with co-occurring disorders and their affected children. Oral presentation at Inter-CFAR Joint Symposium on HIV Research in Women. University of Alabama. Birmingham
2. Pepper, N., Zúñiga, M.L., and Reed, M.B. (2016, October). Country differences in substance use among HIV-positive Latinos in the U.S.- Mexico border region. Oral presentation at Center for AIDS Research, AIDS Research Institute, UC San Diego, San Diego, California.
3. Pepper, N., Zúñiga, M.L., and Reed, M.B. (2016, September). Substance use an entry to HIV care among HIV-positive Latinos in the U.S.-Mexico border region. Oral presentation at the 1st Binational Conference of Family Medicine MEX-USA, Network of Mexican Family Researchers, Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico.
4. Lewis, J., Roeschlein, A., Pellecchia, K., Pepper, N., and Valdez, K. (2016, August). Preventing neglect, abuse and abandonment among families impacted by HIV and substance abuse: A multi-disciplinary approach infused with trauma informed practices. Workshop session presented at the meeting of the Child Welfare League of America, Garden Grove, CA.
5. Jordan, A.E., Masson, C.L., Mateu-Gelabert, P., Pepper, N., McKnight, C., Hare, B., Sorenson, J., Des Jarlais, D.C., and Perlman, D. (2009, November). Time gaps between HIV infection, testing, and treatment among racial/ethnic minority drug users: Opportunities for enhanced prevention. Oral presentation at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.
6. Pepper, N. and McVinney, D. (2007, May). HIV and incarceration. Workshop session presented at the National Conference on Social Work and HIV/AIDS, Albuquerque, NM.
7. Pepper, N., Butler, M. D., and Montoya, J. (2006, November). Secondary syringe exchangers: Who are they and why do they exchange for others. Paper presented at the National Harm Reduction Conference, Oakland, CA.