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 HealthMpowerment.org (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, HealthMpowerment.org, 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

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01MH093275-04
Application #
8678998
Study Section
Behavioral and Social Science Approaches to Preventing HIV/AIDS Study Section (BSPH)
Program Officer
Pequegnat, Willo
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
4
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Name
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Department
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Type
Schools of Medicine
DUNS #
City
Chapel Hill
State
NC
Country
United States
Zip Code
27599
LeGrand, Sara; Muessig, Kathryn E; Pike, Emily C et al. (2014) If you build it will they come? Addressing social isolation within a technology-based HIV intervention for young black men who have sex with men. AIDS Care 26:1194-200
Muessig, Kathryn E; Pike, Emily C; Legrand, Sara et al. (2013) Mobile phone applications for the care and prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases: a review. J Med Internet Res 15:e1
Muessig, Kathryn E; Pike, Emily C; Fowler, Beth et al. (2013) Putting prevention in their pockets: developing mobile phone-based HIV interventions for black men who have sex with men. AIDS Patient Care STDS 27:211-22