In response to a previously unrecognized epidemic of HIV infection affecting young Black men who have sex with men (BMSM) in North Carolina (NC) who met sexual partners on the internet we sought to design a tailored, theory-based interactive HIV/STI prevention website for young BMSM. While previous studies have found that computer-based interventions are efficacious in reducing HIV related sexual risks, to date, no internet-based intervention has been developed specifically for young BMSM. Based on prior successful internet interventions to encourage weight loss, increase physical activity or promote smoking/alcohol cessation, we developed a theory-based website that provides tailored and personalized feedback. Formative data developing and pilot testing (HMP), our theory-based, tailored and tested website indicate that this intervention is acceptable and relevant to the prevention issues currently faced by young BMSM. Moreover, we have demonstrated that we can deliver this intervention over the internet and successfully recruit and retain a high percentage (90%) of BMSM for participation over a one-month follow-up period. Smart phone ownership is rapidly growing and provides internet access that is """"""""always on"""""""" - allowing for the delivery of interventions to persons on the go, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The cell phone industry has documented high levels of use among Blacks creating an increased likelihood, using cell phones, of delivering highly engaging prevention messages to hard-to-reach populations, including those that may not typically access in-person or group interventions. An intervention combining traditional internet with mobile phone technology allows for location independence and increased flexibility, reach and impact. Both the internet and phone based interventions have been shown to improve knowledge and health outcomes among minorities and those with low socioeconomic status (SES) thus the potential for use among young BMSM is enormous. By further refining this intervention and including a mobile phone based platform, we believe we can create a comprehensive internet-based HIV risk reduction intervention for a population that is underserved by currently available prevention interventions. Specifically we plan to use data from feasibility and acceptability testing of our tested and theory-based internet intervention to refine, enhance and test the HMP intervention website, including novel features delivered via mobile phone technology. We then plan to conduct a two arm randomized controlled trial with young BMSM comparing the enhanced HMP intervention to a control condition consisting of links to currently available HIV/STI internet sites.

Public Health Relevance

This unique study seeks to further refine a theory-based, internet intervention,, that has been developed for young Black MSM. By enhancing the current intervention and including a mobile phone based platform, we believe we can create a comprehensive internet-based HIV risk reduction intervention for a population that is underserved by currently available prevention interventions

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Behavioral and Social Science Approaches to Preventing HIV/AIDS Study Section (BSPH)
Program Officer
Pequegnat, Willo
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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
Chapel Hill
United States
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Bauermeister, J A; Muessig, K E; LeGrand, S et al. (2018) HIV and Sexuality Stigma Reduction Through Engagement in Online Forums: Results from the HealthMPowerment Intervention. AIDS Behav :
Hightow-Weidman, Lisa B; LeGrand, Sara; Muessig, Kathryn E et al. (2018) A Randomized Trial of an Online Risk Reduction Intervention for Young Black MSM. AIDS Behav :
Hightow-Weidman, Lisa; LeGrand, Sara; Choi, Seul Ki et al. (2017) Exploring the HIV continuum of care among young black MSM. PLoS One 12:e0179688
Hurt, Christopher B; Soni, Karina; Miller, William C et al. (2016) Human Immunodeficiency Virus Testing Practices and Interest in Self-Testing Options Among Young, Black Men Who Have Sex With Men in North Carolina. Sex Transm Dis 43:587-93
Baltierra, Nina B; Muessig, Kathryn E; Pike, Emily C et al. (2016) More than just tracking time: Complex measures of user engagement with an internet-based health promotion intervention. J Biomed Inform 59:299-307
Hightow-Weidman, Lisa B; Muessig, Kathryn E; Bauermeister, Jose et al. (2015) Youth, Technology, and HIV: Recent Advances and Future Directions. Curr HIV/AIDS Rep 12:500-15
Hightow-Weidman, Lisa B; Muessig, Kathryn E; Pike, Emily C et al. (2015) Building Community Through a Mobile-Optimized, Online Health Promotion Intervention. Health Educ Behav 42:493-9
Muessig, Kathryn E; Nekkanti, Manali; Bauermeister, Jose et al. (2015) A systematic review of recent smartphone, Internet and Web 2.0 interventions to address the HIV continuum of care. Curr HIV/AIDS Rep 12:173-90
Hightow-Weidman, Lisa; Muessig, Kathryn E (2014) Using virtual spaces to engage HIV-positive men who have sex with men online: considerations for future research and interventions. Sex Transm Dis 41:756-8
Muessig, Kathryn E; Baltierra, Nina B; Pike, Emily C et al. (2014) Achieving HIV risk reduction through, a user-driven eHealth intervention for young Black men who have sex with men and transgender women who have sex with men. Digit Cult Educ 6:164-182

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