Although recent meta-analyses of the HIV prevention intervention literature have demonstrated that behavioral interventions reduce sexual risk-taking among men who have sex with men (MSM), interventions for not-in-treatment substance using MSM are lacking. Consequently, and based upon overwhelming evidence that substance use is a primary driver of HIV infection among urban MSM, public health authorities have identified the development of efficacious interventions for substance using MSM as a concern of the highest priority. The proposed study aims to test a new intervention based upon psychological empowerment theory that, in preliminary field tests, produced high levels of acceptability and participation, as well as large reductions in sexual risks and substance use, among a sample of ethnically-diverse, high risk, substance using, HIV+ and -negative MSM. The intervention to be tested is based upon a theory of MSM health risk behaviors that posits that urban gay "fast lane" subcultures present risk environments - including lack of integration with the larger society, normative hypersexuality and substance use, homophobia, sexual competitiveness, and an emphasis on entertainment and escapism - that become problematic for a sizable minority of MSM who live in them. Within this context, the specific aims of the proposed 5-year study are to: 1) describe the nature and extent of substance use and sexual risk behaviors in a sample of 500 sexually active, substance using, not-in- treatment MSM in urban South Florida (Miami/Ft. Lauderdale);2) identify the independent covariates of baseline substance abuse and sexual risks;3) evaluate, through random assignment of participants, the relative effectiveness of two intervention conditions in reducing sexual risks and substance use, as measured at 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-up assessments: a) an innovative five-session risk reduction intervention derived from psychological empowerment theory titled Project GOAL;and, b) a community standard-of-care HIV counseling and testing Comparison Condition. The proposed project responds directly to the calls by public health authorities for the development of efficacious risk reduction interventions for substance using MSM. South Florida consistently ranks in the top three MSAs nationwide in HIV and AIDS incidence and prevalence. South Florida is also a well-known migration point for MSM of extraordinarily diverse backgrounds with high rates of non-injection drug use. This setting provides an excellent context for testing an innovative intervention among high risk substance using MSM who are in need of HIV prevention services. Men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to be at high risk for acquisition and transmission of HIV, and substance use is associated with higher risk. Public health authorities have identified the development of efficacious interventions for substance using MSM as a concern of the highest priority. The proposed randomized clinical trial research aims to test a new intervention based upon psychological empowerment theory that demonstrated large reductions in sexual risks and substance use among a sample of diverse, high risk, heavy substance using MSM in preliminary field tests.
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