HIV Prevention Among Diverse Young MSM: Research Needs, Priorities, and Opportunities
There remains a profound need for innovative and effective interventions designed for young men who have sex with men (YMSM) generally, and racial and ethnic minority YMSM, YMSM living in rural communities, and low-income YMSM, particularly, to prevent HIV and improve health outcomes in the United States. This introduction to this theme issue, “Behavioral HIV Prevention Interventions for Diverse YMSM,” of AIDS Education and Prevention identifies some of the research needs, priorities, and opportunities that emerged during a seminal NIMHD-sponsored workshop on HIV prevention behavioral interventions for diverse YMSM. It provides researchers, practitioners, and federal partners guidance in next steps to reduce the impact of the HIV epidemic among YMSM. The needs, priorities, and opportunities identified serve as a foundation to push both the science and the practice of HIV prevention forward. We recognize that considerably more research is needed, and this issue highlights intervention research-where we have been and where we should go. With the disparities faced by YMSM, we must act rapidly to do the work it will take to meet their prevention needs, reduce infections, and save lives.
Overview of article
- This article identifies some of the research needs, priorities, and opportunities that emerged during a workshop on HIV prevention behavioral interventions for diverse young men who have sex with men (YMSM). It provides researchers, practitioners, and federal partners guidance in next steps to reduce the impact of the HIV epidemic among YMSMS
- A workshop of researchers, practitioners, community members and other federal partners established 17 needs, priorities, and opportunities: 1) Research is needed to better understand the impact of developmental processes and changes on risk; 2) Further understanding and appreciation of how YMSM self-identify and how that identity may change over time are needed; 3) Ethics and policy research is needed to address challenges associated with enrollment of YMSM; 4) Interventions that include parents/guardians should be explored; 5) More attention must be placed on exploring sexual relationships and their meanings, and how issues of love, trust, and intimacy can be incorporated into interventions; 6) Research on use of rapidly evolving technology for HIV prevention is needed; 7) Interventions must focus on HIV testing and access to PrEP and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP); 8) Interventions must be tailored to the heterogeneity of MSM and subpopulations and personalized to the unique circumstances of individual MSM; 9) Social norms and expectations must be explored and considered; 10) Frontline staff and healthcare providers must be trained to respectfully communicate and interact with young MSM, understand their vulnerabilities, and reduce stigma that YMSM face; 11) Innovative interventions must be developed to improve the ease of accessing health and medical care services; 12) Research is needed at the intersection of trauma, the experiences of violence, substance use, and mental health; 13) To ensure the highest likelihood of effectiveness and sustainability, interventions must be developed in partnership with YMSM representing the target community; 14) Prevention messaging should be embedded within relevant LGBT content; 15) Multilevel interventions need to be developed, implemented, and evaluated; 16) Research needs to explore what roles changes in laws (e.g., marriage equality and antidiscrimination) have in terms of HIV risk; and 17) Research must be expanded in regions of the US that are experiencing disproportionate HIV infections
- There are ways in which these findings can align with the priorities of the Office of AIDS Research, NIH, including high priority items like “research to reduce health disparities in the incidence of new HIV infections or in treatment outcomes of those living with HIV/AIDS” and medium research priorities like “health and social issues that are clearly linked with HIV (e.g., stigma)”