Social Intervention Group | SIG

Columbia School of Social Work

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Project Connect: A Case Example

SIG conducted Project Connect between 1997 and 2001. It was the first scientific trial of a relationship-based HIV/STI prevention intervention for heterosexual couples in the United States.

The intervention’s relationship-based approach reframed safer sex not as individual “protection,” but rather as a way to preserve relationship and community, as an act of love, intimacy, and commitment. It emphasized the importance of communication, negotiation, and problem-solving skills, and highlighted how relationship dynamics may be affected by gender roles and expectations. Project Connect demonstrated that the intervention was effective in reducing unprotected sexual acts among the study’s sample of 217 long-term couples.

Most noteworthy is the impact and influence that Project Connect intervention has evidenced in the HIV/STI prevention field. The core elements from Project Connect’s intervention, each scripted for ease of use, have been adapted and built upon for other ongoing clinical trials, testing its efficacy with high-risk and underserved populations, including African American serodiscordant couples and drug-affected couples. Project Connect has been translated domestically as well as internationally (including Central Asia and China).