Rob Stephenson

We Prevent: A dyadic approach to HIV prevention and care among young male couples

Research Project Description
Rob Stephenson, Lynae Anne Darbes

Young (15-24 years old) gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (YMSM) continue to be the group most heavily impacted by HIV in the US, despite stable or declining rates of infection among other groups. Despite socio-ecological theory postulating the importance of individual, dyadic and social influences on HIV risk, there has been a dearth of intervention efforts focused at the dyadic level. Substantial evidence indicates that the proportion of new infections attributable to main partners is higher (84%) among YMSM. YMSM who are new to the experience of a relationship may not yet have developed the efficacy, negotiation and communication skills to successfully navigate HIV testing in a relationship and to communicate around developing a prevention plan. While engaging in romantic and sexual relationships is a developmentally appropriate part of adolescence, YMSM may face issues not experienced by their heterosexual peers, including problems establishing and communicating within relationships due to stress associated with internalized heteronormativity and fear of rejection from family and friends, or lack role models on which to base their relationship expectations. These issues may also be barriers to YMSM communicating with their partners around sero-status, HIV prevention and risk. This project seeks to intervene in relationship communication skills as a pathway to HIV prevention during a critical period of adolescence. The proposed activities will develop and test a relationship skills focused HIV prevention intervention for YMSM aged 15-17 and to conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) comparing the efficacy of the adapted intervention for YMSM versus a control condition on routine HIV testing, STI testing and PrEP knowledge, efficacy, and uptake among a sample of 400 15-17-year-old MSM recruited from the 14 ATN cities.

Funding:
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
(subcontract: 3U19HD089881)

Funding Period: 9/1/2017 to 5/31/2021

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