Dr. Michael Newcomb, Associate Director for Scientific Development at ISGMH and Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Social Sciences at Northwestern University, has been awarded an R01 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to study HIV prevention with young male couples. The five-year study, “Efficacy of Couples-Based HIV Prevention in Vulnerable Young Men” will be a randomized controlled trial of the 2GETHER program, an innovative couples-based intervention for young same-sex male couples that was developed through formative research. The program aims to reduce HIV transmission risk in young men who have sex with men (YMSM) by enhancing relationship communication and coping skills, particularly as they relate to navigating sexual health and satisfaction.
The intervention focuses on YMSM because they are the only group in the U.S. in which rates of new HIV infections are increasing. Moreover, the emphasis is on couples because steady or main partner relationships account for a substantial proportion of new HIV infections in YMSM, yet the vast majority of existing studies and interventions focus on individuals. A racially diverse group of YMSM will be recruited for the study.
In the 2GETHER Program couples learn to utilize behavioral and biomedical approaches to prevent both HIV acquisition and transmission, with an overarching emphasis on improving relationship functioning. Curriculum is designed for all YMSM, regardless of HIV status. In the context of increasing fatigue for HIV prevention, a healthy relationships program for coupled YMSM presents an opportunity to reinvigorate HIV prevention.