Men who have sex with men and use stimulant drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine are at an increased risk of contracting HIV, since stimulant drug use decreases inhibitions and makes the user less likely to use a condom during sex.
Dr. Christian Grov, Professor of Community Health and Social Sciences at CUNY SPH, and Dr. Adam Carrico, Associate Professor of Public Health Sciences at the University of Miami, recently received a three-year, $707,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop an innovative intervention that seeks to reduce stimulant drug use and increase the uptake of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which can provide substantial protection against HIV even when a condom is not used, among this vulnerable population.
The researchers will pilot test an intervention among men in South Florida using two strategies—contingency management and motivational interviewing—to address the outcomes of both substance use as well as increasing PrEP uptake. Contingency management rewards behaviors, such as taking steps to begin PrEP and reduce substance use, while motivational interviewing is a client-centered counseling style for eliciting behavior change by helping clients to explore and resolve ambivalence.
“These techniques have been applied in some aspects of HIV prevention, but never combined to dually address the outcomes we are examining,” Grov says.
PrEP, in the form of a once-daily pill to prevent HIV, was approved by the FDA in 2012.
“Although PrEP has been around for the better part of a decade, we are still scratching our heads about how to improve uptake among populations that would benefit most from its protection,” Grov adds. “Our study is responding to the urgent need of this critical population.”
The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health