Rob Stephenson

Dyadic care for sero-discordant male couples

Research Project Description

We have had a long and productive history working with the MAC AIDS Fund. Over the past 7 years, MAF has supported myself and Dr. Patrick Sullivan to develop and roll out couples HIV counseling and testing for male couples in the US. This has been a highly successful program with couples HIV testing and counseling (CHTC) now rolled out and available to male couples in over 40 states. In 2012 I was funded by the NIH to further develop CHTC and expand it to meet the needs of sero-discordant male couples. NIH funded me to conduct the first ever trial of a dyadic focused intervention for sero-discordant male couples. In this intervention, sero-discordant male couples receive a CHTC session together - in which the negative partner is tested and they develop a joint prevention plan - and then they receive two further counseling sessions in which they work together on an adherence plan for the positive partner and a plan to keep the negative partner negative. When funded, NIH cut our proposed budget by almost 20%: at that time we asked MAF if they would be willing to co-fund the trial. MAF very generously agreed, and have co-funded the trial to date. We are now in the last year of the trial and basically cannot afford to finish it due to ongoing NIH cuts. The trial is proving to be incredibly successful: we have over 100 sero-discordant male couples enrolled in 3 cities (Atlanta, Boston and Chicago): we have a 98% retention rate - with couples coming back every 6 months for treatment. We even have couples who have moved away to other States flying back just to receive these couples based services. This is the only service in the US that provides an intervention specifically for male sero-discordant couples. The potential to create a paradigm shift in how we provide treatment to male couples dealing with HIV in their relationships is huge. We are asking MAF to continue their support of our trial and to help us complete the trial over the next year. This is messaged as a trial co-funded by NIH and MAF, and is an opportunity to illustrate an effective public-private partnership in providing funding to an innovative research endeavor. Early results from the trial are extremely ecouraging: couples who are treated and counseled together demonstrate better engagement in HIV care, better ARV adherence and report feelings of confidence in working together to manage HIV in their relationships.

Mac Aids Fund
(Sponsor Award Email dtd 19Jun15)

Funding Period: 12/20/2016 to 12/19/2017

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