Providing Unique Support for Health Study Among Young Black and Latinx Men Who Have Sex With Men and Young Black and Latinx Transgender Women Living in 3 Urban Cities in the United States
The US National HIV/AIDS Strategy 2020 calls for increasing access to care, improving outcomes of people living with HIV, and targeting biomedical prevention efforts, including access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in communities where HIV is most heavily concentrated. The cities of Baltimore, Maryland (MD); Washington, DC; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (PA) are disproportionately burdened by high rates of new cases of HIV infection, with high prevalence among young Black and Latinx men who have sex with men (YBLMSM) and young Black and Latinx transgender women (YBLTW) aged 15-24 years. This study aims (1) to identify and recruit YBLMSM and YBLTW who are at risk or living with HIV in Baltimore, MD; Philadelphia, PA; and Washington, DC, using respondent-driven sampling (RDS) with targeted seed selection, and (2) to assess the efficacy of a coach-based mobile-enhanced intervention (MEI) compared with standard of care (SOC) to increase successful engagement and retention into HIV, PrEP, and substance use treatment care across the HIV care and prevention continua in 3 Mid-Atlantic cities. This paper describes the protocol and progress as of October 20, 2019. This study uses a multiphase mixed methods design. The first phase is a formative, qualitative research with focus group discussions and key informant interviews. The second phase consists of evaluating the ability of RDS with targeted seed selection. The third phase includes 2 embedded randomized controlled trials (RCTs), where participants complete a baseline sociobehavioral survey, rapid HIV testing, and eligible youth enroll in parallel status-dependent RCTs that randomize the participant to 1 of 2 study arms: MEI with coach or SOC. Participants are asked to complete a web-based survey and provide biologic specimens-HIV-1 RNA (viral load) or HIV-1 antibody test and urine drug screen-at baseline and at 3, 6, and 12 months, and an exit interview at 18 months. A formative qualitative research was conducted in February 2017 and May 2018, and this led to further refinement of recruitment and study methods. Aim 1 recruitment began in September 2017 with subsequent enrollment into the RCTs. Recruitment is ongoing with 520 participants screened and 402 (77.3%) enrolled in aim 1 by October 2020. Of these, 159 are enrolled in the 2 randomized trials: 36 (22.6%) HIV-positive not virally suppressed (aim 2) and 123 (77.4%) high-risk HIV-negative (aim 3). This study has the potential to significantly impact the medical and substance use services provided to YBLMSM and YBLTW in the United States by providing rigorous scientific evidence outlining approaches and strategies that improve the uptake and engagement of YBLMSM and YBLTW in the HIV treatment and prevention continuum.