September 3, 2013
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles developed and tested a culturally tailored HIV prevention program called Men of African-American Legacy Empowering Self (MAALES). African Americans have a significantly higher HIV/AIDS incidence than any other ethnic or racial group. CDC data show African Americans accounted for 44 percent of new U.S. HIV diagnoses in 2010. Also, among men who have sex with men (MSM), black men had the largest estimated number of HIV infections. According to Nina Harawa -- principal investigator, adjunct assistant professor of epidemiology at UCLA, and associate professor of research at Charles R. Drew University -- few interventions exist to reduce the high rates of HIV infection among these men.
MAALES was based on the authors' and others previous research indicating that African-American bisexual men had different experiences and concerns than MSM or heterosexual men. The researchers surveyed 437 bisexual black men and assessed key characteristics and behaviors, sociodemographics, incarceration history, self-reported HIV status, condom use, gender role expectations, experiences with racism, and drug and alcohol use. Researchers conducted the surveys at baseline and three and six months postintervention.
Researchers randomized participants to either the six-session MAALES intervention or a control group that educated them on HIV risk reduction at one session. Participants in the MAALES intervention reported 49 percent fewer episodes of unprotected sex with male or female partners after six months, 50 percent fewer episodes of unprotected vaginal sex with females, and 44 percent fewer female partners compared with controls. Dr. John K. Williams, associate professor in residence of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and the co-principal investigator, concluded that the findings showed the ability to create change by means of culturally tailored behavioral intervention.
The full report, "Efficacy of a Culturally Congruent HIV Risk-Reduction Intervention for Behaviorally Bisexual Black Men: Results of a Randomized Trial," was published online in the journal AIDS (2013; doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e3283617500).