Last updated on August 2019

Couples Health Project: Couples-based Intervention to Reduce Drug Use and HIV Transmission Risk

Brief description of study

This project tests the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of the Couples Health Project (CHP). CHP is a brief (3-session) couples-based Motivational Interviewing intervention which addresses drug use and sexual HIV transmission risk among partnered HIV negative YMSM (ages 18-29). The proposed project includes a randomized controlled trial (RCT) involving 50 couples who are randomized to complete either the CHP intervention or an attention-matched education control condition.

Detailed Study Description

This study aims to evaluate a couples-based intervention with an integrated focus on drug use and HIV prevention, including uptake of and adherence to PrEP. The investigators will recruit a sample of 50 couples (n = 100 individuals)

Recruitment occurs using a mix of in-person and Internet recruitment. Outreach workers will visit bars and events in the New York City area to recruit participants. Also, information on our project will be posted on social media sites (e.g.,Facebook, Grindr, Scruff). Interested individuals will complete a brief online screener to assess eligibility.

A telephone screener will be conducted with participants who are preliminarily eligible based upon online screener responses. Participants who are eligible based upon telephone screening responses will be sent two emails. The first contains a link for them to access the baseline online survey. The second email is for them to forward to their partner. It provides information which introduces the study to the recruited partner and a link to the baseline survey online. If participants indicate intimate partner violence (IPV) on the online baseline survey, participants will be rendered ineligible. Only the participant that indicated experiencing IPV will be given a list of local referrals to access IPV-related services.

An in-person baseline assessment appointment will be scheduled after both participants have completed the online survey. If participants come to the research site alone, they will need to reschedule the appointment when both partners can attend.

The in-person baseline assessment appointment consists of four components; written consenting, a computer-assisted self interview (CASI), a timeline follow back interview, and biological testing.

Written consent is obtained with each participant individually in separate rooms. Participants additionally complete a computer-assisted self interview (CASI) independently. After this, participants will independently complete a TFLB.

TLFB is a semi-structured interview to collect retrospective event-level data on drug use, sexual behavior and PrEP adherence (for those on PrEP) in the past 30 days. Participants complete the survey and TLFB independently in a different room, without their partner.

The final part of the in-person baseline assessment consists of biological testing for STI (gonorrhea & chlamydia via urinalysis and rectal swabs), drug testing via 5-panel fingernail drug assay via finger or toe nail clippings. Drugs tested are 5 major drugs: Amphetamines, Cannabinoids, Cocaine, Opiates, and Phencyclidine (PCP).

After the baseline assessment, participants will be randomized to receive their first CHP or Education session, of which the first session will occur immediately following their baseline assessment. The study will employ a stratified randomization procedure using an algorithm via Qualtrics. Couples will be randomized using three couple-level criteria. Couples will be randomized based on relationship length difference (less than 2 years versus 2 or more), age difference (less than 3 years versus 3 or more), and racial difference (both white versus all others combinations). Each of the intervention arms consists of 3 sessions that occur once a week for three consecutive weeks.

For Session 3 of the experimental and control conditions, participants complete a Couples HIV Testing and Counseling (CHTC) session that involves a rapid HIV testing for couples. HIV testing is done via the Alere Determine HIV-1/2 Ag/Ab Combo blood test. The couple undergo HIV testing together and receive the results together.

All participants complete a 1-month, 3-month, and 6-month follow ups. Follow-up appointments are scheduled with each participant independently (not as a couple). For the 1 month follow up (post baseline assessment), participants will complete an online survey at home for which participants are instructed to take this survey independent from their partner. At the 3 month follow up (post baseline assessment), participants complete a survey with a TLFB and Fingernail specimen collection for drug use at the research office. At the 6 month follow up (post baseline assessment), participants complete a survey with a TLFB and biological specimen collection to test drug use via fingernail sample and Gonorrhea & Chlamydia for STI testing (Urinalysis and Rectal swabs) at the research offices.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03386110

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