Associate Professor

Ontario HIV Treatment Network Applied HIV Research Chair

Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto


Dr. David J. Brennan is an Associate Professor in the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto and an Ontario HIV Treatment Network Applied HIV Research Chair in Gay and Bisexual Men’s Health. Dr. Brennan’s research focuses on the health and wellbeing of sexual minorities and has been funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the Ontario HIV Treatment Network and the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research. Dr. Brennan has conducted several studies looking at the health and social service needs of marginalized sexual minority populations, including HIV risk and resiliencies for gay, bisexual, two spirit and other men who have sex with men. He is particularly interested in examining the ways in which gay and bisexual men who are marginalized by gender identity, race, age, HIV status and other social identities access health and social service information online to reduce the risk of HIV transmission and mediate the impact of HIV upon their lives. His studies have examined the intersection of racism and body image among sexual minority men, the psychosocial factors affecting people living with HIV as they age, the discharge process from in-patient hospital to community for those living with HIV, understanding resilience among Two-spirit gay and bisexual men who have been living long term with HIV, and the sexual health needs of gay and bisexual men who are using mobile apps for socio-sexual reasons. David served as the Co-Chair for the Council on Sexual Orientation and Gender Expression for the Council on Social Work Education.

As noted on the Canadian Institutes of Health Research website:

Community based research comes naturally for Dr. David Brennan.  As an undergraduate student in Boston when the HIV epidemic was emerging, he quickly became involved through volunteer work.  “I was horrified at what was happening with gay men in the community—I was just coming out and I wanted to get involved,” says Dr. Brennan.  “So I called a hotline and asked them if they needed help.”  After working for AIDS service organizations, a home care program and a hospice, Dr. Brennan decided to return to academia and pursue his PhD.  “I wanted to learn more about what we were doing as service providers and policy makers to see how it made a difference in the lives of people living with HIV,” explains Dr. Brennan.  His experience working directly with affected communities meant it was only logical his research career should continue along the same lines and he has now been involved with the HIV community for over 30 years.  “As a social science researcher, engaging with community is a critical part of the work.  It means we can answer the real questions that communities are facing.”

Throughout his time working in the HIV community, Dr. Brennan has seen significant changes and hopes to see more as research pursues relevant questions.  “I think we are having more honest and upfront conversations about why gay men are still at risk for HIV.  What does it mean and how can we make sure that we are promoting gay men’s health and wellness in the best possible way?” asks Dr. Brennan.  “It’s a conversation we weren’t having 30 years ago in any way, shape, or form.  I really hope that the work I do contributes to our understanding of gay men’s health and wellness in the broadest sense and improves care, services and prevention.”


Publications In Refereed Journals

  1. Brennan, D. J., Souleymanov, R., George, C., Newman, P.A., Hart, T. A., Asakura, K., Betancourt, G. (2015). Masculinity, Muscularity, and HIV Sexual Risk Among Gay and Bisexual Men of Color. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, epub ahead of print.
  1. Emlet, C. A., Brennan, D. J., Brennenstuhl, S., Rueda, S., Hart, T. A., & Rourke, S. B. (2014). The impact of HIV-related stigma on older and younger adults living with HIV disease: does age matter? AIDS Care, 27(4), 520-528.
  1. Chonody, J.M., Woodford, M.R., Brennan, D.J., Newman, B.S., & Wang, D. (2014). Attitudes toward gay men and lesbian women among heterosexual social work faculty. Journal of Social Work Education, 50(1), 136-152. doi: 1080/10437797.2014.856239
  1. Travers, R., Munro, L., St. John, A., Klein, K., Hunter, H., Brennan, D.J., Brett, C., & Dobinson, C., (2013). A bed of roses?: The experiences of newcomer LGBT youth who migrate to Toronto. Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, 6(4), 137-150.
  1. Brennan, D.J., Asakura, K., George, C., Newman, P.A., Giwa, S., Hart, T.A., Souleymanov, R., & Betancourt, G. (2013). “Never reflected anywhere:” Body image among ethnoracialized gay and bisexual men. Body Image: An International Journal of Research, 10(3), 389-398. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2013.03.006
  1. Bauer, G.R. & Brennan, D.J. (2013). The problem with ‘behavioral bisexuality’: Assessing sexual orientation in survey research. Journal of Bisexuality, 13(2), 148-165. doi: 10.1080/15299716.2013.782260
  1. Brennan, D.J., Emlet, C., Brennenstuhl, S., & Rueda S. (2013). Socio-demographic profile of older adults with HIV/AIDS: Gender and sexual orientation differences. Canadian Journal on Aging, (32), 31-43. doi 10.1017/S0714980813000068
  1. Emlet, C.A., Brennan, D.J., Brennenstuhl, S., Rueda, S., Hart, T. A., Rourke, S. B., & OCS Study team. (2013). Protective and risk factors associated with stigma in a population of older adults living with HIV in Ontario, Canada. AIDS Care: Psychological and Socio-medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV. 25(10), 1330-1339. doi:10.1080/09540121.2013.774317
  1. Tufford, L., Newman, P.A., Brennan, D.J., Craig, S.L. & Woodford, M.R. (2012). Conducting research with lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Navigating research ethics board reviews. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 24(3), 221-240.
  1. Craig, S.L., Beaulaurier, R.L., Newman, F.L., De La Rosa, M., & Brennan, D.J. (2012). Health and cultural determinants of voluntary HIV testing and counseling among middle aged and older Latinas. Journal of Women and Aging, 24, 97–112. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/08952841.2012.639650
  1. Woodford, M. R., Brennan, D.J., Gutiérrez, L. & Luke, K.P. (2012). U.S. Graduate Social Work Faculty’s attitudes toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Journal of Social Service Research. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/01488376.2012.666936
  1. Peterson, J. A., Miner, M.H., Brennan, D.J., & Rosser, B.R.S. (2012). HIV treatment optimism and sexual risk behaviors among HIV positive African American men who have sex with men. AIDS Education and Prevention, 24, 91-101.
  1. Brennan, D.J., Craig, S. L., & Thompson, D. E. A. (2012). Factors associated with a drive for muscularity among gay and bisexual men. Culture, Health, and Sexuality, 14(1), 1-15.
  1. Brennan, D.J., Crath, R., Hart, T.A., Gadalla, T., & Gillis, L. (2011). Body dissatisfaction and disordered eating among men who have sex with men in Canada. International Journal of Men’s Health, (10)3, 253-268.
  1. Brennan, D.J., Emlet, C.A., & Eady, A. (2011). HIV, sexual health, and psychosocial issues among older adults living with HIV in North America. Ageing International, 36(3), 313-333. DOI: 10.1007/s12126-011-9111-6.
  1. Yager, C., Brennan, D.J., Steele, L., Epstein, R., & Ross, L. E. (2010). The challenges and mental health experiences of lesbian and bisexual women who are in the process of trying to conceive. Health & Social Work, 35(3), 191-200.
  1. Brennan, D.J., Ross, L.E., Dobinson,C., Veldhuizen, S., & Steele, L. (2010). Men’s sexual orientation and health in Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 101(3), 255-8.
  1. Brennan, D.J., Welles, S. L., Miner, M. H., Ross M. W., Mayer. K. H., & Rosser, B.R.S. (2010). HIV treatment optimism and unsafe anal intercourse among HIV-positive men who have sex with men: Findings from the Positive Connections Study. AIDS Education and Prevention, 22(2),126-137.
  1. Brennan, D.J., Welles, S.L., Miner, M. H., Ross, M.W., Mayer, K.H., & Rosser, B.R.S. (2009) Development of a treatment optimism scale for HIV-positive gay and bisexual men. AIDS Care, 21(9), 1090-1097.
  1. Bih, H.D., Wang, F. T. Y., & Brennan, D.J. (2009). Have they really come out? Gay men and their parents in Taiwan. Culture, Health, and Sexuality, 11(3), 285-296.
  1. Welles, S.L., Baker, C., Miner, M., Brennan, D.J., Jacoby, S., & Rosser, B.R.S. (2009). History of childhood sexual abuse and unsafe anal intercourse in a six-city study of HIV-positive men who have sex with men.  American Journal of Public Health, 99(6), 1079 – 1086.
  1. Brennan, D.J., Hellerstedt, W.L., Ross, M.W., & Welles, S.L. (2007). History of childhood sexual abuse and HIV risk behaviors in gay and bisexual men. American Journal of Public Health. 97(6), 1107-1112.


Awards and Honors:

2014-2019 Ontario HIV Treatment Network Applied HIV Research Chair
2011-2014 Ontario HIV Treatment Network Scholarship Salary Award
2009 CIHR: Institute of Infection and Immunology (III) New Investigators Forum attendee
2009 Distinguished Alumni Award, Boston College, Graduate School of Social Work
2006 University Wide Research Excellence Award, Boston College Graduate Student Association
1994 Community Recognition Award, AIDS Action Committee, Boston, MA


External Research Grants:

2014 – 2019 Rourke, S.B., (numerous Co-PIs and Co-Is)…Brennan, D.J. (Co-I). CIHR Centre for REACH (Research Evidence into Action for Community Health) in HIV/AIDS (2.0). CIHR Centre for HIV/AIDS Research. $5,000,000.
2014 – 2016 Brennan, D.J. (PI), Adam, B., Burchell, A., Craig, S., Hart, T.A., Lachowsky, N., McCready, L., & Salway Hottes, T. A mixed method exploration of sexual behaviour, social networks, and health services engagement among younger gay, bisexual, and other men who use the internet to seek sex with men (MISM) in Ontario. Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research. $160,000.
2014 – 2016 Peck, R., Nussbaun, N., Bauer, G., & Brennan, D.J. (Co-I). Legal Needs Assessment for Trans Ontarians Study. Legal Aid Ontario. $126,000.
2014 – 2015 Brennan, D.J. (PI), Jackson, R., Zoccole, A., & Nobis, T. The Seven Truths of Resiliency: Using the Medicine Wheel to examine resilience among long-term HIV-positive two-spirit men. OHTN $19,950.
2014 Hart, T.A., Moore, D., Cox, J., Jollimore, J. (PIs)…Brennan, D.J. (Co-I).HIV prevention for gay and bisexual men: A multisite cohort and development of new HIV prevention interventions. CIHR Team Grant: Advancing Research to Improve Boys’ and Men’s Health. LOI $10,000
2013 – 2015 Brennan, D.J. (PI), O’Leary, B., Craig, S. L., Chan Carusone, S., & Stewart, A. From hospital to community: A Collective case study of the discharge and transitions experiences of adults living with HIV/AIDS. CIHR Catalyst Grant: HIV/AIDS Community-Based Stream. $32,762.60
2013 – 2014 Brennan, D.J. (PI), Lachowsky, N., Betancourt, G., Chikermane, V., Fraser, M., MacLachlan, D., McEwen, O., Murray J., Pugh, D., Durrant, G., Utama, R., & Rosser, B. R. Cruising Counts: Examining online and app-based sexual health outreach for MSM in Ontario. Ontario HIV Treatment Network Targeted Funding. $78,853
2013 – 2014 Craig, S.L. (PI), Lawless, M., Brennan, D.J. (Co-I), & Flicker, S. Affirmative coping skills training to reduce HIV/AIDS risk for sexual minority youth: An open pilot feasibility study. Canadian Institute of Health Research. $32,981
2012 – 2015 Betancourt, G. (Brennan, D.J., supervisor). Masculinities and migration: Analyzing the impact of gender discourses on Latino gay men’s safe sexual practices in Canada. Doctoral Research Award (HIV/AIDS Community –Based Research). CIHR Institute of Gender and Health. $105,000.
2012 – 2014 Brennan, D.J. (PI), Zoccole, A., Jackson, R., Nobis, T. Exploring the Health and Wellness of   Long-Term HIV-Positive Two-Spirit Men in Ontario. CIHR Catalyst Grant: HIV/AIDS and Aboriginal Health. $100,000.
2011 – 2016 Brennan, D. J. , Ontario HIV Treatment Network Scholarship Salary Award: “Resiliencies and Risks: Addressing HIV and Other Health Disparities among Marginalized Men Who Have Sex with Men.” $260,000.
2011 – 2012 Brennan, D.J.,(PI) & Rueda, S.  Double Jeopardy? A Salon on the Joys and Discontents of Aging with HIV. CIHR: Café Scientifique. $3,000.
2010 – 2012 Lewis-Peart, D., McCready, L., Brennan, D.J. ( Co-I), Adam, B., Nelson, L. Impact of Black CAP’s Modified Many Men, Many Voices intervention on young black men who have sex with men in Toronto . Ontario HIV Treatment Network. $46,264.
2010 – 2011 Bauer, G.R. & Brennan, D.J. (Co-PI). Are Gay Men Really Men who have Sex with Men (MSM)? Methodological Issues in Measuring Male Sexual Orientation in Health Research. CIHR: $42,790.
2010 – 2011 Emlet, C. & Brennan, D.J. (Co-PI). A profile of Older Adults with HIV/AIDS in Toronto Ontario. Embassy of Canada. $6,580.
2009 – 2015 Rourke, S.B., (PI), multiple Co-PIs and Co-Is, Brennan, D.J . (one of multiple co-Is). Centre for REACH (Research Evidence into Action for Community Health) in HIV/AIDS. CIHR: $2.5 million.
2009 – 2015 Rourke, S.B., (PI), multiple Co-PIs and Co-Is, Brennan, D.J . (one of multiple co-Is). Universitae Sine Murae “Universities Without Walls” Training grant – CIHR Centre for Interdisciplinary Training and Research in HIV/AIDS (CITHRA). $1.8 million.
2009 – 2012 Brennan, D.J., (PI) Newman, P.A., George, C., Hart, T.A., Persad, I., Ceranto, A., Eating disorders, body image satisfaction and physical, mental and sexual health among gay and bisexual men who identify with ethno-racialised communities. Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. $152,000.
2009 – 2010 Travers, R., Flynn, S., Flicker, S., Brennan, D.J., Hart, T.A.. Teens Resisting Urban Trans/Homophobia (TRUTH). Ontario HIV Treatment Network. $25,000.
2008 – 2009 Guimond, T. (PI), Strike, C., (Co-PI), Brennan, D.J. , Cullen, J., Dolan, L., Halman, M., Husbands, W., Mahan, M., Milson, P., Murray, J. (Co-I’s). Developing research in HIV risk-reduction for substance-using gay and bisexual men: A harm-reduction approach employing motivational interviewing. Ontario HIV Treatment Network. $100,000.
2008 – 2009 Brennan, D.J. (PI), Hart, T.A. (Co-I), Gillis, L. (Co-I). Body Image and Health: Eating Attitudes and Behaviors and Body Image Satisfaction among Gay and Bisexual Men in Ontario. Ontario HIV Treatment Network. $9,818.
2008 – 2009 Brennan, D.J. (PI), Hart, T.A. (Co-I), Gillis, L. (Co-I). Eating Attitudes and Behaviors and Body Image Satisfaction among Gay and Bisexual Men in Ontario. Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. $700 (U.S.).