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Columbia School of Social Work

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SIG Demonstrates First Promising Couple-Based HIV Study for At-Risk Black Men in Same-Sex Relationships

cwpDecember 2011—Findings from a recent study suggest a promising couple-based intervention to reduce behavioral risk of HIV transmissions among Black men who have sex with men (MSM). This research addresses the segment of the population that accounts for the majority of HIV infections in the United States. In New York City alone, HIV prevalence for Black MSM exceeds many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. This innovative research is especially valuable given that twice as many of those transmissions come from primary partners as opposed to casual partners. Recruitment for the program was done over a five-month period at local bars, clubs, and community events, such as artist readings and film screenings frequented by MSM in New York City. After an assessment process, thirty-four couples were enrolled in the pilot for seven weekly sessions.

Study Details:

  • Sample group was methamphetamine-using Black MSM with multiple partners
  • Socio-demographic characteristics, sexual risk behavior, and frequency of illicit drug use were reported using an audio computer-assisted self-interview (ACASI)
  • Data were collected prior to receipt of the intervention at “baseline” and 2-months after intervention delivery at “follow-up”

Major Findings:

  • 81% reported having more than one male sexual partner prior to intervention; 31% after receipt of the intervention
  • 85% reported engaging in unprotected sex with their main partner before the program; 42% after completion of program
  • 78% reported using methamphetamine at baseline; this number reduced by more than half to 35% at follow-up

Overall, findings strongly suggest the intervention significantly reduced sexual risk behavior and the use of methamphetamine and other drugs amongst Black MSM. Participants maintained a high level of attendance throughout the program and provided positive feedback at the end of the sessions. These findings open up the possibility for a larger scale trial and potentially a new program.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funded this study. For more information, you may refer to the original paper.