African American or Black young men who have sex with men (BYMSM) are at a disproportionate risk for contracting HIV and have high rates of undiagnosed, and therefore untreated, HIV infection. In the southern United States, BYMSM face region-specific hurdles to HIV prevention, such as limited access to care and high levels of racism and intersectional stigma, necessitating HIV testing and pre-exposure prophylaxis interventions that address sociocultural and structural barriers while motivating BYMSM to engage in prevention. Brothers Saving Brothers (BSB) is a motivational interviewing behavioral intervention that successfully and simultaneously increased community-based HIV testing and prevention counseling and education among BYMSM in the midwestern United States.
The aim of this protocol is to detail the process for the adaption of the BSB intervention for midwestern BYMSM to the Kings intervention for southern BYMSM. During the adaptation process, the intervention will be modernized to include rapid HIV testing, as opposed to HIV testing that requires BYMSM to return for test results, pre-exposure prophylaxis, and the provision of structural supports, and for relevance in the southern United States.
Aim 1 is to gather qualitative data through focus groups and in-depth interviews with BYMSM aged 18 to 29 years in Alabama and in-depth interviews with prevention and outreach workers who routinely work with BYMSM in Alabama. NVivo qualitative software (QSR International) will be used for the coding and analysis of the transcripts via a thematic analysis approach. For aim 2, intervention mapping will guide the adaptation process, intervention content, components, and design. Both aims 1 and 2 will leverage the Exploration, Preparation, Implementation, Sustainment implementation science framework, with emphasis on the exploration and preparation phases of this model. By applying these frameworks, the original midwestern BSB intervention will be scientifically adapted to the southern BYMSM Kings intervention.
This study is ongoing as of 2022 and is expected to conclude in 2024, with aims 1 and 2 being completed in 2023. Qualitative data will offer insight into the current real-world experiences and preferences of BYMSM in Alabama. Feedback will be collected through the adaptation process to inform intervention refinement. Institutional review board approvals have been received.
The findings will inform next steps, that is, testing the Kings intervention for feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effectiveness in a pilot hybrid type 1 effective-implementation randomized controlled trial. The study results will provide insights about important considerations for HIV prevention among BYMSM in the southern United States.