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2.  Suboptimal awareness and comprehension of published pre-exposure prophylaxis efficacy results among physicians in Massachusetts 
AIDS care  2013;26(6):684-693.
In 2010, the CAPRISA 004 and iPrEx trials (microbicide gel containing tenofovir and oral pill containing tenofovir-emtricitabine, respectively) demonstrated that antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) reduced the risk of HIV acquisition among high-risk individuals. To determine facilitators and barriers to PrEP provision by healthcare providers, we conducted an online, quantitative survey of Massachusetts-area physicians following the publication of the CAPRISA and iPrEx results. We assessed awareness and comprehension of efficacy data, prescribing experience, and anticipated provision of oral and topical PrEP among physicians, as well as demographic and behavioral factors associated with PrEP awareness and prescribing intentions. The majority of HIV specialists and generalist physicians were aware of data from these PrEP trials and able to correctly interpret the results, however, correct interpretation of findings tended to vary according to specialty (i.e., HIV specialists had greater awareness than generalists). Additionally provider concerns regarding PrEP efficacy and safety, as well its ability to divert funds from other HIV prevention resources, were associated with decreased intentions to prescribe both oral and topical PrEP. Findings suggest that a substantial proportion of physicians who may have contact with at-risk individuals may benefit from interventions that provide accurate data on the risks and benefits of PrEP in order to facilitate effective PrEP discussions with their patients. Future studies to develop and test interventions aimed at healthcare providers should be prioritized to optimize implementation of PrEP in clinical settings.
PMCID: PMC4053171  PMID: 24116985
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis; PrEP; Physicians; HIV; Prevention
3.  Substance Use Among HIV-Infected Patients Engaged in Primary Care in the United States: Findings From the Centers for AIDS Research Network of Integrated Clinical Systems Cohort 
American journal of public health  2013;103(8):1457-1467.
The purpose of this study was to better understand substance use behaviors and deleterious health consequences among individuals with HIV.
We examined a multicenter cohort of HIV-infected patients (n = 3413) receiving care in 4 US cities (Seattle, Birmingham, San Diego, Boston) between December 2005 and April 2010 in the Centers for AIDS Research Network of Integrated Clinical Systems (CNICS). We used generalized estimating equations to model specific substance use outcomes.
Overall, 24% of patients reported recent use of marijuana; 9% reported amphetamine use, 9% reported crack–cocaine use, 2% reported opiate use, 3.8% reported injection drug use, and 10.3% reported polydrug use. In adjusted multivariable models, those who reported unprotected anal sex had higher odds of marijuana, amphetamine, injection drug, and polydrug use. An increased number of distinct vaginal sexual partners was associated with polydrug and crack–cocaine use. Nonadherence to antiretroviral therapy was associated with the use of all substances other than marijuana.
The co-occurrence of substance use, unprotected intercourse, and medication nonadherence could attenuate the public health benefits of test, treat, and link to care strategies. Prevention programs are needed that address these coprevalent conditions.
PMCID: PMC3752382  PMID: 23763417
4.  The other side of the bridge: exploring the sexual relationships of men who have sex with men and their female partners in Mumbai, India 
Culture, health & sexuality  2014;16(7):780-791.
Behaviourally bisexual men have been identified as a ‘bridge’ population of HIV transmission to heterosexual women in India. Little is known about the sexual relationships that these men have with their female sex partners. The primary objective of this study was to explore the sexual practices and relationship dynamics between married and unmarried behaviourally bisexual men and their female sex partners in Mumbai, India. In 2009, semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 32 men who reported sex with men and women. Participants discussed a variety of sexual practices and arrangements with female sex partners. Irrespective of marital status and sexual identity, many said that they had satisfying sexual experiences and feelings of affection for female sex partners. However, sexual incompatibility between married partners was also reported. Explanations of bisexual concurrency were discussed in terms of both sexual satisfaction and sexual preference. Self-perceived HIV risk related to same-sex sexual behaviour motivated many men to use condoms with female partners. Expectations of unprotected marital sex and perceptions of partner risk were barriers to condom use. HIV prevention programmes for this population may benefit from tailored risk reduction counselling that attend to the variations of these sexual and social relationship dynamics.
PMCID: PMC4090273  PMID: 24815724
India; HIV/AIDS; bisexual men; women
5.  Race-Based Sexual Preferences in a Sample of Online Profiles of Urban Men Seeking Sex with Men 
Race-based sexual preferences in the online profiles of men who have sex with men (MSM) may be relevant for understanding the sexual health of this population, including racial/ethnic disparities in HIV infection. In October 2011, a content analysis was conducted of the profiles of Boston-area members of a racially diverse website for MSM. The present analysis formatively examined the use of demographic and partner selection criteria by race/ethnicity appearing in the profiles of men who indicated race-based partner preferences (n = 89). Latino men were the most frequently preferred race (54 %), followed by White (52 %), Black (48 %), and Asian (12 %) men. In separate multivariable models adjusted for age and HIV status disclosure, wanting low-risk foreplay was associated with a preference for White men (aOR) = 4.27; 95 % CI = 1.70–10.75; p = 0.002), while wanting group sex was associated with a preference for Black (OR = 2.28; 95 % CI = 1.08–4.81; p = 0.03) and Latino men (OR = 2.56; 95 % CI = 1.25–5.23; p = 0.01). Future studies are needed to replicate findings in larger online samples. Mixed-methods research should explore how racial and behavioral preferences impact the sexual mixing patterns and health of MSM online in urban areas.
PMCID: PMC4134451  PMID: 24496568
MSM; Internet; Race/ethnicity; HIV; Sexual risk
6.  A Pilot Trial of Integrated Behavioral Activation and Sexual Risk Reduction Counseling for HIV-Uninfected Men Who Have Sex with Men Abusing Crystal Methamphetamine 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2012;26(11):681-693.
Crystal methamphetamine use is a major driver behind high-risk sexual behavior among men who have sex with men (MSM). Prior work suggests a cycle of continued crystal methamphetamine use and high-risk sex due to loss of the ability to enjoy other activities, which appears to be a side effect of this drug. Behavioral activation (BA) is a treatment for depression that involves learning to reengage in life's activities. We evaluated a novel intervention for crystal methamphetamine abuse and high-risk sex in MSM, incorporating 10 sessions of BA with integrated HIV risk reduction counseling (RR). Forty-four subjects were screened, of whom 21 met initial entry criteria. A total of 19 participants enrolled; 16 completed an open-phase study of the intervention. Behavioral assessments were conducted at baseline, 3 months postbaseline, and 6 months postbaseline. Linear mixed effects regression models were fit to assess change over time. Mean unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) episodes decreased significantly from baseline to acute postintervention (β=−4.86; 95% confidence interval [CI]=−7.48, −2.24; p=0.0015) and from baseline to 6 months postbaseline (β=−5.07; 95% CI=−7.85, −2.29; p=0.0017; test of fixed effects χ2=16.59; df=2,13; p=0.0002). On average, there was a significant decrease over time in the number of crystal methamphetamine episodes in the past 3 months (χ2=22.43; df=2,15; p<0.0001), and the number of days of crystal methamphetamine use in the past 30 days (χ2=9.21; df=2,15; p=0.010). Statistically significant reductions in depressive symptoms and poly-substance use were also maintained. Adding behavioral activation to risk reduction counseling for MSM with problematic crystal methamphetamine use may augment the potency of a risk reduction intervention for this population. Due to the small sample size and time intensive intervention, future testing in a randomized design is necessary to determine efficacy, with subsequent effectiveness testing.
PMCID: PMC3495110  PMID: 23030605
7.  Patient and Provider Perspectives on Cellular Phone Based Technology to Improve HIV Treatment Adherence 
AIDS care  2013;26(1):26-32.
Innovative techniques, potentially using technology, to improve adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART), may help patients with HIV who struggle with self-care. This qualitative study compared patient and provider participants’ perspectives on ART adherence and text messaging as a tool to promote adherence. Thirteen providers and 14 HIV-infected patients identified four main themes: 1). facilitators and 2). barriers to using text message reminders as a medium for ART medication reminders; 3). framing of text message reminders; and 4). patient responsibility and autonomy in management of their health and wellness. Ease of use, access, convenience, and confidentiality were cited as benefits of a text message based adherence intervention; while access, cost, difficulty manipulating cellular phones, lack of knowledge/education, and confidentiality were cited as potential barriers. Providers, but not patients, also identified patient apathy and time burden as potential barriers to a text message based adherence reminder system. Patients and providers felt that personalization of messages, attention to timing, and confidentiality of messages were key factors for a successful text message based adherence reminder system. Both providers and patients felt that patient responsibility and autonomy over an individual’s own health care is an important issue in adherence to medical care. The majority of patients and providers felt that a text message based adherence reminder system would be beneficial. While patients and providers had many similar views on factors influencing adherence with ART and the use of text messaging to improve adherence, there were some divergent views between the two groups.
PMCID: PMC4418185  PMID: 23742640
HIV; antiretroviral therapy; adherence; technology
8.  Adaptation of an HIV Medication Adherence Intervention for Adolescents and Young Adults 
Cognitive and behavioral practice  2013;21(2):191-205.
Rising rates of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among adolescents and young adults underscore the importance of interventions for this population. While the morbidity and mortality of HIV has greatly decreased over the years, maintaining high rates of adherence is necessary to receive optimal medication effects. Few studies have developed interventions for adolescents and young adults and none have specifically been developed for sexual minority (lesbian, gay, and bisexual; LGB) youth. Guided by an evidence-based adult intervention and adolescent qualitative interviews, we developed a multicomponent, technology-enhanced, customizable adherence intervention for adolescents and young adults for use in a clinical setting. The two cases presented in this paper illustrate the use of the five-session positive strategies to enhance problem solving (Positive STEPS) intervention, based on cognitive-behavioral techniques and motivational interviewing. We present a perinatally infected heterosexual woman and a behaviorally infected gay man to demonstrate the unique challenges faced by these youth and showcase how the intervention can be customized. Future directions include varying the number of intervention sessions based on mode of HIV infection and incorporating booster sessions.
PMCID: PMC4247162  PMID: 25452680
HIV/AIDS; adherence; adolescents; intervention; problem solving; technology; case study
9.  Optimizing Content for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Counseling for Men who have Sex with Men: Perspectives of PrEP Users and High-risk PrEP Naïve Men 
AIDS and behavior  2014;18(5):871-879.
Existing trials of antiretroviral (ARV) medication as chemoprophylaxis against HIV reveal that the degree of protection is primarily dependent on product adherence. However, there is a lack of data on targets for behavioral interventions to improve adherence to ARV as prevention. Information from individuals who have used ARV as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) can inform behavioral intervention development. Thirty-nine HIV-uninfected MSM at high risk for HIV acquisition participated in one of four semi-structured focus groups. Two of the focus groups consisted of MSM who had been prescribed and used PrEP in the context of a clinical trial; the other two consisted of high-risk MSM who had not previously used PrEP. An in-depth, within-case/across-case content analysis resulted in six descriptive themes potentially salient for a PrEP adherence behavioral intervention: (1) motivations to use PrEP, (2) barriers to PrEP use, (3) facilitators to PrEP use, (4) sexual decision-making in the context of PrEP, (5) prospective PrEP education content, and, (6) perceived effective characteristics of PrEP delivery personnel. Addressing these themes in behavioral interventions in the context of prescribing PrEP may result in the optimal “packaging” public health programs that implement PrEP for high-risk MSM.
PMCID: PMC4265582  PMID: 24077928
Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP); antiretroviral therapy for prevention; ART; HIV Prevention; MSM; adherence
10.  The influence of stigma on HIV risk behavior among men who have sex with men in Chennai, India 
AIDS care  2012;24(11):1401-1406.
Stigma has been shown to increase vulnerability to HIV acquisition in many settings around the world. However, limited research has been conducted examining its role among men who have sex with men (MSM) in India, whose HIV prevalence is far greater than the general population. In 2009, 210 MSM in Chennai completed an interviewer-administered assessment, including questions about stigma, sexual-risk, demographics, and psychosocial variables. More than one fifth of the MSM reported unprotected anal sex (UAS) in the past three months. Logistic regression procedures were used to examine correlates of having experienced stigma. The 11-item stigma scale had high internal consistency reliability (Cronbach's alpha=0.99). Almost 2/5ths (39%) reported a high-level of experienced stigma (≥12 mean scale-score) in their lifetime, and the mean stigma scale score was 12 (SD=2.0). Significant correlates of having experienced prior stigma, after adjusting for age and educational attainment, included: identifying as a kothi (feminine acting/appearing and predominantly receptive in anal sex) compared to a panthi (masculine appearing, predominantly insertive) (AOR= 63.23; 95% CI: 15.92, 251.14; p<0.0001); being “out” about one's MSM behavior (AOR=5.63; 95% CI: 1.46, 21.73; p=0.01); having clinically significant depressive symptoms (AOR=2.68; 95% CI: 1.40, 5.12; p=0.003); and engaging in sex work in the prior 3 months (AOR=4.89; 95% CI: 2.51, 9.51; p<0.0001). These findings underscore the need to address psychosocial issues of Indian MSM. Unless issues such as stigma are addressed, effective HIV prevention interventions for this hidden population remain a challenge.
PMCID: PMC3634562  PMID: 22519945
men who have sex with men; MSM; depression; India; HIV; stigma
Men who have sex with men (MSM) in India have an HIV seroprevalence 22 times greater than the country’s general population and face unique challenges that may hinder the effectiveness of current HIV prevention efforts. To obtain an understanding of the logistical and sociocultural barriers MSM experience while accessing HIV prevention services, focus groups and key informant interviews were conducted with 55 MSM in Chennai, India. Qualitative data were analyzed using descriptive qualitative content analysis. Sixty-five percent of participants identified as kothi (receptive partners), 9% as panthi (insertive partners), 22% as double decker (receptive and insertive), and 4% did not disclose. Themes included: (a) fatigue with current HIV risk reduction messages; (b) increased need for non-judgmental and confidential services; and (c) inclusion of content that acknowledges individual and structural-level determinants of risk such as low self-esteem, depression, and social discrimination. MSM interventions may benefit from approaches that address multilevel psychosocial factors, including skills building and strategies to foster self-acceptance and increased social support.
PMCID: PMC3613222  PMID: 23206199
12.  Intimacy versus Isolation: A Qualitative Study of Sexual Practices among Sexually Active HIV-Infected Patients in HIV Care in Brazil, Thailand, and Zambia 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0120957.
The success of global treatment as prevention (TasP) efforts for individuals living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) is dependent on successful implementation, and therefore the appropriate contribution of social and behavioral science to these efforts. Understanding the psychosocial context of condomless sex among PLWHA could shed light on effective points of intervention. HPTN 063 was an observational mixed-methods study of sexually active, in-care PLWHA in Thailand, Zambia, and Brazil as a foundation for integrating secondary HIV prevention into HIV treatment. From 2010–2012, 80 qualitative interviews were conducted with PLWHA receiving HIV care and reported recent sexual risk. Thirty men who have sex with women (MSW) and 30 women who have sex with men (WSM) participated in equal numbers across the sites. Thailand and Brazil also enrolled 20 biologically-born men who have sex with men (MSM). Part of the interview focused on the impact of HIV on sexual practices and relationships. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, translated into English and examined using qualitative descriptive analysis. The mean age was 25 (SD = 3.2). There were numerous similarities in experiences and attitudes between MSM, MSW and WSM across the three settings. Participants had a high degree of HIV transmission risk awareness and practiced some protective sexual behaviors such as reduced sexual activity, increased use of condoms, and external ejaculation. Themes related to risk behavior can be categorized according to struggles for intimacy and fears of isolation, including: fear of infecting a sex partner, guilt about sex, sexual communication difficulty, HIV-stigma, and worry about sexual partnerships. Emphasizing sexual health, intimacy and protective practices as components of nonjudgmental sex-positive secondary HIV prevention interventions is recommended. For in-care PLWHA, this approach has the potential to support TasP. The overlap of themes across groups and countries indicates that similar intervention content may be effective for a range of settings.
PMCID: PMC4368566  PMID: 25793283
13.  The Syndemic Condition of Psychosocial Problems and HIV Risk Among Male Sex Workers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 
AIDS and behavior  2014;18(7):1264-1271.
In Vietnam, the co-occurrence (i.e., “syndemic”) of psychosocial factors (e.g., depression and substance use) may disproportionately burden male sex workers and increase their HIV risk. A comprehensive survey was conducted among 300 male sex workers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 2010. We performed logistic regression to examine the association between the syndemic variable – a count score of the number of 5 psychosocial conditions endorsed – and unprotected anal sex (UAS) in the past. One-third of participants reported any UAS, and 42% reported ≥ 2 psychosocial health problems. In multivariable models, experiencing ≥ 4 psychosocial health problems was significantly associated with UAS. Every unit increase in number of psychosocial health problems was associated with a 25%–30% increase in odds of UAS. Understanding the syndemic condition and its association with HIV risk among male sex workers in Vietnam may lead to the development of more effective, comprehensive interventions.
PMCID: PMC4363106  PMID: 24081899
HIV; Vietnam; psychosocial health; male sex workers; transactional sex
14.  Whoonga: Potential recreational use of HIV antiretroviral medication in South Africa 
AIDS and behavior  2014;18(3):511-518.
Whoonga is a drug cocktail in South Africa rumored to contain illicit drugs and HIV antiretroviral (ARV) medication. Although its use may adversely impact adherence to HIV treatment and may have the potential to generate ARV resistance, there is a paucity of research characterizing whoonga. We learned of whoonga during semi-structured interviews about substance abuse and HIV risk at “club-events” known as inkwaris in an urban township of Durban, South Africa. Whoonga was an emerging theme spontaneously identified as a problem for the community by 17 out of 22 informants. Perceptions of whoonga suggest that it is highly addictive, contains ARVs (notably efavirenz), is used by individuals as young as 14, and poses a threat to the health and safety of those who use it, including increasing the risk of HIV infection. Our informants provide preliminary evidence of the dangers of whoonga and reinforce the need for further study.
PMCID: PMC3926908  PMID: 23955659
Recreational HIV antiretroviral use; Substance abuse; South Africa; Whoonga and nyaope; Antiretroviral diversion
15.  Barriers to Routine HIV Testing Among Massachusetts Community Health Center Personnel 
Public Health Reports  2011;126(5):643-652.
We assessed the extent to which Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations have influenced routine HIV testing among Massachusetts community health center (CHC) personnel, and identified specific barriers and facilitators to routine testing.
Thirty-one CHCs were enrolled in the study. We compared those that did and did not receive funding support from the federal Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. An anonymous survey was administered to a maximum five personnel from each CHC, including a senior administrator, the medical director, and three medical providers. Overall, 137 participants completed the survey.
Among all CHCs, 53% of administrators reported having implemented routine HIV testing at their CHCs; however, only 33% of medical directors/providers reported having implemented routine HIV testing in their practices (p<0.05). Among administrators, 60% of those from Ryan White-supported CHCs indicated that both they and their CHCs were aware of CDC's recommendations, compared with 27% of administrators from non-Ryan White-supported CHCs. The five most frequently reported barriers to the implementation of routine HIV testing were (1) constraints on providers' time (68%), (2) time required to administer counseling (65%), (3) time required to administer informed consent (52%), (4) lack of funding (35%), and (5) need for additional training (34%). In a multivariable logistic regression model, the provision of on-site HIV testing by nonmedical staff resulted in increased odds of conducting routine HIV testing (odds ratio [OR] = 9.84, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.77, 54.70). However, the amount of time needed to administer informed consent was associated with decreased odds of providing routine testing (OR=0.21, 95% CI 0.05, 0.92).
Routine HIV testing is not currently being implemented uniformly among Massachusetts CHCs. Future efforts to increase implementation should address personnel concerns regarding time and staff availability.
PMCID: PMC3151181  PMID: 21886324
16.  Suicidality, clinical depression, and anxiety disorders are highly prevalent in men who have sex with men in Mumbai, India: Findings from a community-recruited sample 
Psychology, health & medicine  2011;16(4):450-462.
In India men who have sex with men (MSM) are a stigmatized and hidden population, vulnerable to a variety of psychosocial and societal stressors. This population is also much more likely to be HIV-infected compared to the general population. However, little research exists about how psychosocial and societal stressors result in mental health problems. A confidential, quantitative mental-health interview was conducted among 150 MSM in Mumbai, India at The Humsafar Trust, the largest non-governmental organization serving MSM in India. The interview collected information on sociodemographics and assessed self-esteem, social support and DSM-IV psychiatric disorders using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI). Participants' mean age was 25.1 years (SD=5.1); 21% were married to women. Forty-five percent reported current suicidal ideation, with 66% low risk, 19% moderate risk, and 15% high risk for suicide per MINI guidelines. Twenty-nine percent screened in for current major depression and 24% for any anxiety disorder. None of the respondents reported current treatment for any psychiatric disorder. In multivariable models controlling for age, education, income and sexual identity, participants reporting higher levels of self-esteem and greater levels of satisfaction with the social support they receive from family and friends were at lower risk of suicidality (self-esteem AOR=0.85, 95% CI: 0.78-0.93; social support AOR=0.76, 95% CI: 0.62-0.93) and major depression (self-esteem AOR=0.79, 95% CI: 0.71-0.89; social support AOR=0.68, 95% CI: 0.54-0.85). Those who reported greater social support satisfaction were also at lower risk of a clinical diagnosis of an anxiety disorder (AOR=0.80; 95% CI: 0.65-0.99). MSM in Mumbai have high rates of suicidal ideation, depression and anxiety. Programs to improve self-esteem and perceived social support may improve these mental health outcomes. Because they are also a high-risk group for HIV, MSM HIV prevention and treatment services may benefit from incorporating mental health services and referrals into their programs.
PMCID: PMC3136931  PMID: 21749242
Men who have sex with men (MSM); Mumbai; India; mental health; suicide; depression; anxiety
18.  Childhood Sexual Abuse Is Highly Associated With HIV Risk–Taking Behavior and Infection Among MSM in the EXPLORE Study 
Previous studies have found high rates of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) among US men who have sex with men (MSM). CSA history has been associated with a variety of negative effects later in life including behaviors that place MSM at greater risk for HIV acquisition and transmission. The present analysis is the first to examine the longitudinal association between CSA and HIV infection, unprotected anal sex, and serodiscordant unprotected anal sex, as well as mediators of these relationships among a large sample of HIV-uninfected MSM.
The EXPLORE Study was a behavioral intervention trial conducted in 6 US cities over 48 months with HIV infection as the primary efficacy outcome. Behavioral assessments were done every 6 months via confidential computerized assessments. Longitudinal regression models were constructed, adjusting for randomization arm, geographical location of study site, age at enrollment, education, and race/ethnicity.
Of the 4295 participants enrolled, 39.7% had a history of CSA. Participants with a history of CSA [adjusted hazards ratio = 1.30, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.02 to 1.69] were at increased risk for HIV infection over study follow-up. A significant association was seen between history of CSA and unprotected anal sex (adjusted odds ratio = 1.24, 95% CI: 1.12 to 1.36) and serodiscordant unprotected anal sex (adjusted odds ratio = 1.30, 95% CI: 1.18 to 1.43). Among participants reporting CSA, the EXPLORE intervention had no effect in reducing HIV infection rates. Participants reporting CSA were significantly more likely to have symptoms of depression and use nonprescription drugs.
A predictive relationship between a history of CSA and subsequent HIV infection was observed among this large sample of HIV-uninfected MSM. Findings indicate that HIV-uninfected MSM with CSA histories are at greater risk for HIV infection, report higher rates of HIV sexual risk behavior, and may derive less benefit from prevention programs. Future HIV prevention interventions should address the specific mental health concerns of MSM with a history of CSA.
PMCID: PMC3292283  PMID: 19367173
child sexual abuse; EXPLORE; HIV; MSM; sexual risk taking
19.  “We fear the police, and the police fear us”: Structural and individual barriers and facilitators to HIV medication adherence among injection drug users in Kiev, Ukraine 
AIDS care  2010;22(11):1305-1313.
Ukraine has one of the most severe HIV/AIDS epidemics in Europe, with an estimated 1.63% of the population living with HIV/AIDS in 2007. Injection drug use (IDU) remains the predominant mode of transmission in Kiev—the capital and largest city. Prior reports suggest that the HIV infection rate among IDUs in Kiev reaches 33%, and many have poor and inequitable access to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Among those with access to HAART, little is understood about barriers and facilitators to HAART medication adherence.
In 5/2009, two semi-structured focus groups were conducted with HIV-infected IDUs seeking treatment at the City AIDS Center, Kiev. The goal was to use this information to adapt and tailor, to Ukrainian culture, an evidence-based intervention for improving adherence to HAART. All 16 participants attributed HIV infection to IDU. Their average age was 31.6 (SD=7.0), average time with HIV 5.7 years (SD=4.0), average time on HAART 2.5 years (SD=1.7), average time as IDU 14.6 years (SD=6.8), and 88% were on opioid substitution therapy.
The most salient themes related to adherence barriers included: (1) harassment and discrimination by police; (2) opioid dependence; (3) complexity of drug regimen; (4) side effects; (5) forgetting; (6) co-occurring mental health problems; and (7) HIV stigma. Facilitators of adherence included: (1) cues for pill taking; (2) support and reminders from family, significant other, and friends; (3) opioid substitution therapy; and (4) wanting improved health. Additional factors explored included: 1) knowledge about HAART; (2) storage of medications; and (3) IDU and sexual risk behaviors.
Findings highlighted structural and individual barriers to adherence. At the structural level, police discrimination and harassment was reported to be a major barrier to adherence to opioid substitution therapy and HAART. Privacy and stigma were barriers at the individual level. Recommendations for adherence interventions included education, training, and identification cards to show police that medication was for treatment of HIV, not for abuse; and involving family members and other systems of support for HIV treatment.
PMCID: PMC2952728  PMID: 20640954
HIV; ARV; IDU; Ukraine; opioid substitution therapy; adherence
20.  Transgender Health Disparities: Comparing Full Cohort and Nested Matched-Pair Study Designs in a Community Health Center 
LGBT health  2014;1(3):177-184.
U.S. health surveillance systems infrequently include measures to identify transgender respondents or monitor the health of this underserved and marginalized population.
From 2001–2002, transgender and non-transgender adults were sampled at a Massachusetts clinic. Health differences were formatively examined by transgender identity using a cross-sectional, clinic-based sample (n=2,653); and a nested matched-pair subsample (n=155).
Both designs produced virtually identical findings: (1) the prevalence of HIV, substance abuse, and smoking did not differ significantly for transgender and non-transgender patients; (2) transgender patients were more likely to endorse a lifetime suicide attempt and ideation compared to non-transgender patients (p<0.05); (3) transgender patients disproportionately reported social stressors (violence, discrimination, childhood abuse) relative to non-transgender patients (p<0.05).
Findings suggest that a nested design may provide an effective methodology for using clinical data to study transgender health, and underscore the need for routine collection of gender identity in clinical settings.
PMCID: PMC4219512  PMID: 25379511
Health disparity; transgender; gender identity; methods; study design
21.  Does Effective Depression Treatment Alone Reduce Secondary HIV Transmission Risk? Equivocal Findings from a Randomized Controlled Trial 
AIDS and behavior  2013;17(8):2765-2772.
Depressed mood has been associated with HIV transmission risk behavior. To determine whether effective depression treatment could reduce the frequency of sexual risk behavior, we analyzed secondary outcome data from a 36-week, two-arm, parallel-design, randomized controlled trial, in which homeless and marginally housed, HIV-infected persons with comorbid depressive disorders were randomized to receive either: (a) directly observed treatment with the antidepressant medication fluoxetine, or (b) referral to a local public mental health clinic. Self-reported sexual risk outcomes, which were measured at 3, 6, and 9 months, included: total number of sexual partners, unprotected sexual intercourse, unprotected sexual intercourse with an HIV-uninfected partner or a partner of unknown serostatus, and transactional sex. Estimates from generalized estimating equations regression models did not suggest consistent reductions in sexual risk behaviors resulting from treatment. Mental health interventions may need to combine depression treatment with specific skills training in order to achieve durable impacts on HIV prevention outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3805275  PMID: 23975476
HIV; Depression; Antidepressive agents; Sexual behavior; Protected sex; Homeless persons
22.  HIV Prevention Interventions in Chennai, India: Are Men Who Have Sex with Men Being Reached? 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2009;23(11):981-986.
India has the greatest number of HIV infections in Asia and the third highest total number of infected persons globally. Men who have sex with men (MSM) are considered by the Government of India's National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) a “core risk group” for HIV in need of HIV prevention efforts. However there is a dearth of information on the frequency of participation in HIV prevention interventions and subsequent HIV risk and other correlates among MSM in India. Recruited through peer outreach workers, word of mouth and snowball sampling techniques, 210 MSM in Chennai completed an interviewer-administered assessment, including questions about participating in any HIV prevention interventions in the past year, sexual risk taking, demographics, MSM identities, and other psychosocial variables. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression procedures were used to examine behavioral and demographic correlates with HIV prevention intervention participation. More than a quarter (26%) of the sample reported participating in an HIV prevention intervention in the year prior to study participation. Participants who reported engaging in unprotected anal sex (UAS; odds ratio [OR] = 0.28; p = 0.01) in the 3 months prior to study enrollment were less likely to have participated in an HIV prevention program in the past year. MSM who were older (OR = 1.04; p = 0.05), kothis (feminine acting/appearing and predominantly receptive partners in anal sex) compared to panthis (masculine appearing, predominantly insertive partners; OR = 5.52, p = 0.0004), those with higher educational attainment (OR = 1.48, p = 0.01), being “out” about having sex with other men (OR = 4.03, p = 0.0001), and MSM who reported ever having been paid in exchange for sex (OR = 2.92, p = 0.001) were more likely to have reported participation in an HIV prevention intervention in the preceding year. In a multivariable model, MSM reporting UAS in the prior 3 months were less likely to have participated in an HIV prevention intervention (AOR = 0.34, p = 0.04). MSM who were older (AOR = 1.05, p = 0.05), those with higher educational attainment (AOR = 1.92, p = 0.0009), and MSM who were “out” about having sex with other men (AOR = 2.71, p = 0.04) were more likely to have reported participating in an HIV prevention program. Findings suggest that exposure to HIV prevention interventions may be protective against engaging in UAS for some MSM in India. Understanding predictors of participation in an HIV prevention intervention is helpful for identifying Indian MSM who might have had no exposure to HIV prevention information and skills building, hence allowing researchers and prevention workers to focus efforts on individuals at greatest need.
PMCID: PMC2859779  PMID: 19821722
23.  Sources of Racial/Ethnic Differences in Awareness of HIV Vaccine Trials 
American journal of public health  2014;104(8):e112-e118.
We explored the relative effects of 2 awareness components—exposure and attention—on racial/ethnic differences in HIV vaccine trial awareness among men who have sex with men (MSM).
Surveys assessing awareness of and attitudes toward HIV vaccine trials were administered to 1723 MSM in 6 US cities. Proxy measures of exposure included use of HIV resources and other health care services, community involvement, income, and residence. Attention proxy measures included research attitudes, HIV susceptibility, and HIV message fatigue. Using logistic regression models, we assessed the extent to which these proxies accounted for racial/ethnic differences in vaccine trial awareness.
White MSM reported significantly (P < .01) higher rates of HIV vaccine trial awareness (22%) compared with Latino (17%), Black (13%) and “other” (13%) MSM. Venue-based exposure proxies and research-directed attitudinal attention proxies were significantly associated with awareness, but only accounted for the White-Latino disparity in awareness. No proxies accounted for the White-Black or White- “other” differentials in awareness.
Sources of disparities in awareness of HIV vaccine trials remain to be explained. Future trials seeking to promote diverse participation should explore additional exposure and attention mediators.
PMCID: PMC4103242  PMID: 24922153
24.  Psychosocial risk factors for HIV sexual risk among Indian men who have sex with men 
AIDS care  2013;25(9):1109-1113.
Indian men who have sex with men (MSM) are at increased risk for HIV compared to the general Indian population. Psychosocial factors may be uniquely associated with HIV risk among Indian MSM and may moderate the beneficial impact of standard HIV prevention approaches. Psychiatric diagnostic interviews and psychosocial and sexual risk assessments were conducted among 150 MSM in Mumbai, India. Logistic regression was employed to examine the association of psychiatric disorders and psychosocial problems to recent sexual risk behavior. Twenty-five percent of participants reported engaging in unprotected anal sex (UAS) during their last sexual contact with a man. Men who were married to a woman were more likely to have engaged in UAS during their last sexual contact with a man (35% vs. 17%, p = 0.018). In multivariable models, significant predictors of engaging in UAS were current major depression (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.61; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.07, 6.39) and number of stressful life events (AOR = 0.91; 95% CI 0.83, 0.99). Alcohol dependence, anxiety, and self-esteem were not associated with engaging in UAS. Indian MSM with depression are at higher odds of engaging in UAS compared to MSM without depression. HIV prevention programs for Indian MSM may benefit from incorporating treatment or triage for mental health problems.
PMCID: PMC3708996  PMID: 23339580
men who have sex with men (MSM); Mumbai; India; mental health; depression; minority stress; HIV
25.  Health System and Personal Barriers Resulting in Decreased Utilization of HIV and STD Testing Services among At-Risk Black Men Who Have Sex with Men in Massachusetts 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2009;23(10):825-835.
Testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STD) remains a cornerstone of public health prevention interventions. This analysis was designed to explore the frequency of testing, as well as health system and personal barriers to testing, among a community-recruited sample of Black men who have sex with men (MSM) at risk for HIV and STDs. Black MSM (n = 197) recruited via modified respondent-driven sampling between January and July 2008 completed an interviewer-administered assessment, with optional voluntary HIV counseling and testing. Logistic regression procedures examined factors associated with not having tested in the 2 years prior to study enrollment for: (1) HIV (among HIV-uninfected participants, n = 145) and (2) STDs (among the entire mixed serostatus sample, n = 197). The odds ratios and their 95% confidence intervals obtained from this analysis were converted to relative risks. (1) HIV: Overall, 33% of HIV-uninfected Black MSM had not been tested for HIV in the 2 years prior to study enrollment. Factors uniquely associated with not having a recent HIV test included: being less educated; engaging in serodiscordant unprotected sex; and never having been HIV tested at a community health clinic, STD clinic, or jail. (2) STDs: Sixty percent had not been tested for STDs in the 2 years prior to study enrollment, and 24% of the sample had never been tested for STDs. Factors uniquely associated with not having a recent STD test included: older age; having had a prior STD; and never having been tested at an emergency department or urgent care clinic. Overlapping factors associated with both not having had a recent HIV or STD test included: substance use during sex; feeling that using a condom during sex is “very difficult”; less frequent contact with other MSM; not visiting a health care provider (HCP) in the past 12 months; having a HCP not recommend HIV or STD testing at their last visit; not having a primary care provider (PCP); current PCP never recommending they get tested for HIV or STDs. In multivariable models adjusting for relevant demographic and behavioral factors, Black MSM who reported that a HCP recommended getting an HIV test (adjusted relative risk [ARR] = 0.26; p = 0.01) or STD test (ARR = 0.11; p = 0.0004) at their last visit in the past 12 months were significantly less likely to have not been tested for HIV or STDs in the past 2 years. Many sexually active Black MSM do not regularly test for HIV or STDs. HCPs play a pivotal role in encouraging testing for Black MSM. Additional provider training is warranted to educate HCPs about the specific health care needs of Black MSM, in order to facilitate access to timely, culturally competent HIV and STD testing and treatment services for this population.
PMCID: PMC2859760  PMID: 19803696

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