Adapting the Finding Respect and Ending Stigma Around HIV (FRESH) Intervention for the Dominican Republic

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  • sponsor
    Florida State University
Updated on 4 October 2022
Accepts healthy volunteers


This research has the potential to make important contributions toward HIV and intersectional stigma reduction across the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. It will do so by adapting and testing a patient-provider, clinic-based intersectional stigma-reduction intervention -- Finding Respect and Ending Stigma around HIV (FRESH) -- for the Dominican Republic. Preliminary results from this R21 study (e.g. workshop satisfaction, stigma outcomes, HIV continuum of care outcomes, etc.) will inform the development of an investigator-initiated R01 proposal to conduct a full scale stepped wedge cluster randomized controlled trial of the adapted FRESH intervention.


The proposed study addresses the high level of stigma against people living with HIV (PLWH), particularly gender and sexual minorities, that is embedded in the Dominican Republic's HIV treatment system through the adaptation and testing of a patient-provider intervention -- Finding Respect and Ending Stigma around HIV (FRESH). The Dominican Republic is a high priority setting with an increasing need for HIV stigma reduction studies. The Caribbean holds the second highest regional burden of HIV in the world, yet receives insufficient HIV-related stigma research funding. The Dominican Republic is 1 of 5 countries that accounts for over 95% of all Caribbean HIV infections; it also has a significant concentrated HIV epidemic, a deeply conservative society in which PLWH are stigmatized, and an exceptionally low national viral load suppression rate. To accomplish this pilot study, three Specific Aims are proposed. Aim 1 is to explore sources, characteristics, and consequences of HIV-related and intersectional stigmas experienced in healthcare settings by MSM and transgender women to inform the adaptation of FRESH. To accomplish Aim 1, we will conduct qualitative in-depth interviews with healthcare workers who provide HIV care, focus groups with MSM, and in-depth interviews with transgender women. Aim 2 is to adapt FRESH to address stigmas experienced by MSM and transgender women in the Dominican Republic. We will apply the Aim 1 findings using the ADAPT-ITT framework to systematically adapt FRESH, an intervention that has been employed to reduce stigma in healthcare settings in Africa and the United States. Through an iterative process, each revision of FRESH will be shared with both PLWH and healthcare workers to solicit and incorporate their feedback about each version of the adapted intervention. Aim 3 will pilot-test the adapted intervention to obtain estimates of its ability to reduce stigmatizing attitudes and behaviors from HWs and experiences of stigma reported by sexual and gender minorities (SGM) and non-SGM clients living with HIV (primary); while exploring if FRESH has the potential to influence clinic-level HIV cascade outcomes.. By adapting and testing the FRESH intervention for the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, FRESH could become a validated, multi-region HIV and intersectional stigma reduction intervention designed specifically for healthcare settings in high-stigma, culturally conservative, resource-constrained communities; such a scientific development would be a significant contribution to HIV stigma reduction efforts in the Caribbean and globally.

Condition Hiv
Treatment Finding Respect and Ending Stigma around HIV (FRESH)
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04491539
SponsorFlorida State University
Last Modified on4 October 2022


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Inclusion Criteria

Minimally 18 years and 0 months of age
Works at one of the three study sites
Interacts with people living with HIV
Spanish speaking
Can read Spanish text
Able and willing to provide informed consent
Inclusion Criteria for people living with HIV participants
Minimally 16 years and 0 months of age
Is HIV-positive
Spanish speaking
Receives treatment at one of the three study sites
Identifies as an SGM
Able and willing to provide informed consent
Clear my responses

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