224402 Integrating the social network strategy for HIV testing at a CBO targeting African American men who have sex with men (AA MSM): Lessons learned and recommendations for use

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chanza Baytop, MPH, DrPH , Abt Associates, Inc., Bethesda, MD
Scott Royal, PhD , Abt Associates Inc., Bethesda, MD
Rebecca Tregerman , Abt Associates, Inc., Bethesda, MD
Ron Simmons, PhD , Us Helping Us, People Into Living, Inc., Washington, D.C., DC
Donna H. McCree, PhD, MPH, RPh , National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Issues: In the US, African American men who have sex with men (AA MSM) are disproportionately affected by HIV. Improving knowledge of HIV status is an important prevention strategy to improve health outcomes and decrease risk of secondary transmission. Use of social network strategy (SN) in HIV testing has shown promise for identifying previously undiagnosed HIV+ persons. This presentation highlights lessons learned in the implementation of SN into a community-based organization (CBO) in Washington, D.C. targeting AA MSM. Descriptions: The SN strategy was adapted for AA MSM and integrated into an existing testing program that included alternate venue testing (AVT) and standard counseling and referral services. In SN, HIV+ or high-risk negative persons are enlisted as recruiters to identify others in their social networks (network associates) for referral to HIV testing. These network associates are asked to identify other at-risk persons. An innovative system was created for linking and tracking recruiters and their associates. Initial staff training was followed by ongoing technical assistance. To date, 24 recruiters were enlisted and referred 146 AA MSM for testing; 14 (10%) were identified as new HIV+. Lessons Learned: Successful implementation of the SN required adaptation and innovation with ongoing training and agency support. Recommendations: To develop strategies that are not only effective but can be successfully implemented in community-based practice, prevention researchers and services providers must collaborate to preserve the main content of a promising approach while adapting it to the needs of the clients, community and organization.

Learning Areas:
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Program planning
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to: 1. Explain the relevance of the study findings to the prevention of HIV among African American men who have sex with men. 2. Describe the core elements, benefits, and challenges of social network strategy in reaching high risk populations. 3. Identify barriers and facilitators to successful implementation and integration of social network strategy in an existing HIV testing program at a community-based organization.

Keywords: African American, Gay Men

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I serve as the Principal Investigator for this evaluation research project. In this capacity, I oversee the planning, implementation and evaluation of the testing strategies. My role includes close collaboration with the service providers of the community-based organization implementing the strategies. I also serve as project director on similar research evaluation projects serving populations at risk.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.