A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Bruthas Project

Emily Arnold, UC San Francisco; Carla Smith, California Prevention Education Project

The HIV epidemic in the African American community is among the most urgent public health crises in the United States. African American men have been highly impacted by HIV, with reports showing disproportionate levels of HIV infection, HIV-related illnesses, and death rates due to AIDS. Several research studies indicate that many African American men who have sex with men and women do not identify themselves as gay or bisexual. They also may not perceive themselves at risk for HIV, undergo HIV testing, utilize HIV prevention services, or disclose their sexual behaviors to others. These men are sometimes referred to as "men on the down low (DL)" or "DL men." This application seeks to test an HIV prevention and health promotion intervention designed specifically for African American men who have sex with men and women, using a randomized controlled trial design. We seek to compare an enhanced traditional HIV intervention that combines confidential HIV counseling and testing with a series of individualized sexual health promotion counseling sessions to the standard HIV counseling and testing experience. Enhanced counseling sessions will address (a) increasing comfort with one’s personal identity, (b) establishing positive relationships, and (c) building safer sex skills. We will evaluate this intervention by comparing it to a standard HIV counseling and testing program, assessing the risk behaviors of the participants at pre-intervention, post-intervention, and 3 month follow up. All phases of this work will be conducted through a collaboration between the California Prevention and Education Project (Oakland, CA), the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (University of California, San Francisco), and members of the African American community. Findings from this project will be disseminated to local and national professional, community, and scientific networks.