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August 2001

The Study | The Sponsors | The Interviews | The Program | Eligibility | Scheduling | Contacting the SMART Couples Project

The Study

PartnersThe SMART Couples Project is a confidential research study for heterosexual, gay, and lesbian couples in which one partner is HIV negative and the other is HIV positive. The study aims to better understand how people living with HIV deal with their medical treatments, and the role that relationship partners can play in these matters. The project will test a newly-developed program designed to help couples of mixed HIV status deal with medical issues and other HIV-related concerns together, including sex and intimacy.

The Sponsors

The SMART Couples Project is a federally funded study administered by the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at the New York State Psychiatric Institute in collaboration with the Center for Comprehensive Care at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital. The study is built upon years of clinical experience and previous research studies with mixed HIV status couples.

The Interviews

An important part of the SMART Couples Project is the opportunity to collect research data about how people with HIV/AIDS deal with their medical treatments, the role that relationships can play in dealing with medical issues, and other challenges facing couples of mixed HIV status. The information obtained through the study interviews will provide valuable data for doctors, psychologists, social workers, policymakers, and others who have mixed-status couples as clients. Participating couples will therefore make a significant contribution to other people in their situation.

Each couple that is eligible for the study will take part in several interviews over the course of several months. Each partner receives payments for each interview; these payments begin at $20 per partner and increase over time to $40. A couple can collectively earn $250 or more over the course of the study.

The Program

In addition to collecting information through the interviews, the SMART Couples Project is also testing a newly-developed program for mixed HIV status couples. Couples participating in the interviews may also be randomly assigned to take part in this program. The main goal of the program is to help people in mixed-status relationships protect one another's health. This includes helping the HIV positive partner stay on top of medical treatments and protecting the HIV negative partner from the virus. The program involves four meetings with a Nurse Practitioner to discuss these issues.


At this time, participation in the SMART Couples Project is limited to couples of mixed HIV status. One partner must have tested HIV positive while the other's most recent HIV test must have returned negative (no new testing is required). The study is designed for the participation of both members of the couple, not for individuals.

In addition to this criterion, both relationship partners must be over the age of 18 and the HIV positive partner must currently be taking HIV/AIDS medications. Participants must also be able to take part in English-language interviews.

We expect that many couples of mixed HIV status will be eligible to take part in the study. Those who are not will receive an individual consultation to help them find resources better suited to their specific situation.


Appointments for the SMART Couples project can be made during weekdays or weeknights at two convenient locations in Manhattan. Participation begins with an entrance interview of both partners which lasts 60 to 90 minutes and pays $20 per partner. Subsequent interviews are set-up at regular intervals following the first appointment.

Contacting the SMART Couples Project

The best way to learn more about the SMART Couples Project or to see if you are eligible for the study is to call the project at 212-740-3204.

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This article was provided by SMART Couples Project.
See Also
More on Mixed-Status Couples