Background: Male sex workers (MSW), or men who exchange sex for money, drugs, or other items of value with other men, are at exceptionally high risk for HIV infection. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP, truvada) is effective for reducing HIV acquisition among HIV uninfected individuals, but its efficacy is highly dependent on uptake and excellent adherence, which can pose problems among certain groups. Providence, Rhode Island (RI) is primed to be a site for testing of a PrEP initiation and adherence intervention for MSW, as it has a sizeable market for MSW (>1,000 street and internet based MSW). Additionally, Providence is the site of the nation's first drop-in center for MSW, called Project Weber, and is the site of one of the first clinical PrEP programs in the country, led by our team at Miriam Hospital/Brown University. Overview: Informed by our abundance of formative research and programmatic work with MSWs in the US, our interdisciplinary investigator team designed the PrEPare for Work package that includes two components: 1) peer-led strengths-based case management (SBCM) for PrEP initiation and 2) a counseling and problem-solving PrEP adherence intervention that addresses individualized barriers to optimal use. We propose to pilot test the PrEPare for Work package in two phases, laying the groundwork for a future R01 efficacy trial. We will: (Phase 1) conduct an open phase evaluation of PrEPare for Work. The intervention will be piloted with up to 10 MSW. Acceptability and feasibility data and participant exit interviews will be used to finalize all study procedures, questionnaire and intervention manual for use in the next phase; (Phase 2) conduct a pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) of PrEPare for Work using a two-stage randomization design. Stage 1: 106 MSW will be equally randomized to receive either the peer-led SBCM or standard of care (i.e., referrals only) for engagement with our existing PrEP clinic. Stage 2: Those from stage 1 who initiate PrEP (n~44), regardless of stage 1 randomization condition, will then be equally randomized to either the PrEPare for Work adherence intervention or standard of care comparison condition. In stage 1, the primary outcome is PrEP initiation (initial prescription filled, time-to-PrEP initiation). In stage 2, the primary outcomes are PrEP adherence (% of truvada-blood levels, hair samples, self-report) and retention in PrEP care at 6 months. Major study assessment visits are: for stage 1, baseline and 1-month follow up; for stage 2, baseline, 3-, and 6- months. Innovation: Evidence-based interventions to enhance uptake and optimize adherence of PrEP among at risk populations with complex life experiences must be developed and tested. This will ensure that individuals, such as MSW, who are most in need of PrEP, can benefit from its application. The current study would be the first of its kind with respect to packaging PrEP for MSW. By linking MSW to our team's existing PrEP program for ongoing PrEP clinical care, we will leverage existing infrastructure-enhancing the sustainability of the PrEPare for Work package, if shown to be effective in an eventual R01 efficacy RCT.
Male sex workers (MSW), or men who exchange sex for money, drugs, or other items of value with other men, are at exceptionally high risk for HIV infection, many of which are ideal candidates for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) - an effective biomedical intervention for reducing HIV transmission - but these men face individual, interpersonal and contextual challenges to PrEP uptake which can also pose significant barriers to optimal adherence. Informed by over a decade of formative research and programmatic work with MSWs in the United States (and globally), our interdisciplinary investigator team designed the 'PrEPare for Work' package that includes two components: 1) peer-led strengths-based case management for PrEP initiation and 2) once PrEP is initiated, a counseling and problem-solving PrEP adherence intervention that addresses individualized barriers to optimal use. The present NIH grant submission is to pilot test the PrEPare for Work intervention package in a two-stage randomized controlled pilot trial in Providence, Rhode Island, providing preliminary data on acceptability and feasibility, and initial effect size estimates-all laying the groundwork for a future R01 efficacy trial.
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