Rob Stephenson

NEXUS - Providing online counseling for home based HIV testing

Research Project Description

Men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to be the most heavily-impacted risk group in the US HIV epidemic. Studies suggest that the majority of incident HIV infections among MSM are attributable to sex with a main male sex partner; however, HIV prevention interventions that target male-male couples are lacking. Because of this, Couples HIV Voluntary Counseling and Testing (CVCT), an intervention that has been repeatedly shown to reduce HIV transmission within heterosexual couples, has been adapted to US MSM couples. CVCT for MSM couples is now available in 11 US cities. The FDA recently approved home-based HIV testing: however, critics have pointed to the lack of counseling involved, particularly for those who receive a positive HIV test. The proposed activities include an innovative combination of home-based HIV testing and CVCT. The activities investigate the utility of home-based HIV testing combined with a video-skype operated CVCT session, operated by a remotely located CVCT counselor. Through the screening of 1300 online recruited MSM couples from across the US and the enrollment of 600 in a RCT, the study aims to examine the impact of home-based HIV testing PLUS a video-skype operated CVCT session (experimental condition) versus home-based HIV testing alone (control) on reductions in sexual risk-taking, formation of and adherence to agreements around sex, relationship functioning for the management of HIV risk in relationships among MSM couples. The proposed activities examine the impact of the intervention on self-reported sero-concordant negative couples (n=300) and self-reported sero-discordant couples (n=300). As a secondary aim, the activities propose to investigate the impact of home-based HIV testing plus a video-skype operated CVCT session on timely linkage to care for those receiving a preliminary positive HIV result.

Funding:
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
(7 R01 HD 078131 02)

Funding Period: 1/1/2015 to 5/31/2019

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