Network Intervention to Reduce Negative Impact of Methamphetamine Use in Latino MSM

Rafael Diaz, California State University, San Francisco; George Ayala, AIDS Project Los Angeles
Social and Behavioral

Background: Latino gay men constitute one of the most vulnerable groups in the nation for the transmission of HIV, showing some of the highest rates of seroprevalence, seroconversion, and unprotected anal intercourse with partners of unknown status. Recent studies of Latino gay men confirm that sexual risk behavior is more likely to occur when under the influence of methamphetamine (MA), with MA users reporting the highest rates (72%) of HIV risk for any Latino MSM subgroup studied to date. Preliminary data suggest that through MA use, men achieve powerful effects - social, psychological, and sexual - that are subjectively and functionally significant in their lives, but often at a big cost to their physical, psychological and sexual well-being. Research to date shows that negative consequences of MA use are related to the user's progressive social isolation, often in response to perceived judgment and stigmatization from partners and friends.

Methods: The purpose of this project is to develop, implement and pilot-test a face-to-face group intervention that trains concerned partners and friends of MA users to intervene in non-judgmental, yet effective ways. Guided by principles of Motivational Interviewing, we will encourage and train participants to interact with their MA using friends in ways that promote self-directed change and access to substance abuse services when appropriate. The intervention will be conducted in Los Angeles and San Francisco and will be guided by principles of Harm Reduction and Motivational Interviewing, and by the sociocultural model of HIV risk among Latino gay men where risk (sexual and substance-related) is understood as shaped by experiences of social discrimination on the basis of race, class and sexual orientation. Intervention development will be conducted in collaboration with members of the target audience, with community-based organizations that serve different segments of the Latino gay men population in each city, and with substance abuse treatment providers.

Results: The presentation will focus on formative research that supports the rationale for the chosen intervention as well as its feasibility and acceptability by concerned partners and friends.
Conclusion: The majority of MA-using men have loved ones who are concerned about their use and abuse, but are not sure how to help. By training concerned friends' and partners' to intervene effectively, we aim to address the problems by enhancing and reinforcing naturally occurring factors of resiliency and strength in the Latino gay community.