SMART Project

Adolescent men who have sex with men (AMSM) are disproportionately affected by HIV as they represent 2% of all young people but represent nearly 80% of HIV infections among youth. Despite this dramatic health disparity, HIV prevention interventions tailored for this population are scarce as most HIV interventions are focused on older MSM or heterosexual youth. In order to decrease these disparities, AMSM need unique interventions that will resonate with them. Further, these interventions should be responsive to cultural minority groups. For example, Spanish-speaking MSM represent 27% of all new HIV infections, which may be due to language barriers that prevent them from accessing HIV services.

The Sexual Minority Adolescent Risk Taking (SMART) Project is an eHealth intervention that is tailored to the specific needs of AMSM living in the United States. The SMART Project will deliver both contextually and culturally relevant information and skills to AMSM in hopes of minimizing sexual risk. The SMART Project adopts a stepped-down approach, wherein it is recognized that different people respond differently to interventions.

The SMART Project package includes: (1) a universally-delivered, brief, online sexual health education program designed for sexual and gender minority youth regardless of whether they are sexually active (Queer Sex Ed); (2) a more intensive online intervention designed for diverse AMSM engaging in HIV transmission risk behaviors (Keep It Up!); and (3) a more intensive motivational interviewing (MI) intervention that will be delivered by MI therapists via online video chat (Young Men’s Health Project).

The SMART Project aims to:

  • Evaluate the impact of the SMART Project and its components at reducing HIV risk among AMSM.
  • Test if the SMART Project has differential efficacy across high-risk sub-groups of AMSM.
  • Evaluate the delivery of the SMART Project nationally to inform scale out and determine cost-effectiveness.

The project is a joint collaboration between Northwestern University, Hunter College at City University of New York, North Carolina State University, Medical University of South Carolina, and University of Puerto Rico.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Brian Mustanski
Co-Investigators: Drs. Kathryn Macapagal, Michael Newcomb, Frank Penedo, Ken Weingardt, and C. Hendricks Brown of Northwestern University; Drs. Jeffrey Parsons, Ana Ventuneac, and Tyrel Starks of Hunter College, City University of New York; Drs. Eric Laber and Marie Dvaidian of North Carolina State University; and Drs. Carlos Rodriguez-Diaz and Guillermo Bernal of University of Puerto Rico.
Project Director: Dr. David Moskowitz
Funder: National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities