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2GETHER Relationship Education Intervention Endorsed by the CDC

The 2GETHER intervention developed at Northwestern University was designated a "best" evidence-based HIV prevention program.


The Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH) behavioral health program 2GETHER was added to a compendium of best evidence-based HIV prevention interventions by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January. The 2GETHER program is led by principal investigator Michael Newcomb, PhD, an associate professor at ISGMH and director of ISGMH’s THRIVE Center.

2GETHER is a relationship education and HIV prevention program that works with same-sex male couples to improve relationship functioning and decrease sexual risk behaviors, with an overarching goal of reducing HIV diagnoses. Its inclusion in the CDC compendium is based on a randomized controlled trial, often simply called an RCT, from 2018-2020. That RCT recruited 200 gay and bisexual male couples, for a total of 400 participants, and found that the 2GETHER program decreased the occurrence of STIs and decreased sexual risk behaviors associated with HIV transmission.

“Since my team and I started working with young male couples through the 2GETHER program in 2015, our goal has been to provide relationship skills that address the specific and culturally relevant needs of sexual minority men with romantic partners,” said Newcomb. "We hypothesized that we could address the high rate of HIV transmission that occurs in primary sexual partnerships among young men through teaching skills like healthy communication and coping strategies. The effectiveness of this randomized controlled trial tells us that 2GETHER indeed succeeds in reducing key risk factors for HIV.”

Based on the results of the RCT, 2GETHER has been designated as a best evidence-based behavioral intervention for reducing the risk of HIV.

“This best evidence designation gives legitimacy to the 2GETHER intervention because of the very high standard set by the CDC. We know that 2GETHER works. And, by extension, we also know that engaging romantic dyads together as a unit works to improve their individual and collective health,” said Newcomb. “This CDC designation opens the door for other organizations around the US to implement 2GETHER. And I’m excited by the possibility that our program, which is now nine years in the making, could help improve the relationships and overall health of many more LGBTQ young people.” 

More than 1,800 participants have enrolled in different versions of the 2GETHER studies in total. Currently, Newcomb and his team are working on all2GETHER, a five-year project that delivers an automated version of the 2GETHER intervention to a wider audience of couples and single participants across the LGBTQ spectrum.

2GETHER project director Jim Carey, MPH, elaborated on the current version of this highly effective intervention:

“all2GETHER is so unique in how we start with practicing effective communication skills and subsequently discuss HIV prevention and risk reduction, both inside and outside of a primary relationship. Many existing interventions are focused on primary prevention, which is necessary, but I believe the unique aspects of our intervention address prevention fatigue within marginalized communities. Opening the discussion to include both secondary and tertiary prevention strategies is also realistic, considering that many of our participants simply will not use condoms for a myriad of reasons. We need as many tools in our prevention toolbox as possible, but more importantly, we need to be comfortable discussing strategies other than what is considered the gold standard of prevention to best serve our participants.”

Two additional ISGMH HIV prevention programs are included in the CDC's compendium.  Keep It Up! 2.0 was designated a best evidence-based HIV prevention intervention for HIV risk reduction among young men who have sex with men. ISGMH's SMART Sex Ed program was designated by the CDC as an evidence-informed intervention for HIV prevention, specifically regarding the increased uptake of PrEP among young sexual minority men ages 13-18.


Michael Newcomb, PhD, is the principal investigator. Co-investigators at Northwestern are Jody Ciolino, PhD; Dennis Li, PhD; Kathryn Macapagal, PhD; and Brian Mustanski, PhD External collaborators include Ayden Scheim, PhD (Drexel University); Kit Simpson, PhD (Medical University of South Carolina); and Sarah Whitton, PhD (University of Cincinnati). Jim Carey, MPH, is the director of all the 2GETHER studies.

Access the CDC’s compendium entry for 2GETHER.

Read the scientific publication about the 2GETHER RCT, "Biomedical and behavioral outcomes of 2GETHER: A randomized controlled trial of a telehealth HIV prevention program for young male couples."