Georgia: Gay Couples Needed for HIV Prevention Research
April 5, 2011
An Emory University Rollins School of Public Health study is encouraging gay male couples to volunteer for an HIV testing and counseling trial. To be eligible for the "Men Testing Together" study, participants must have been in the relationship for at least three months.
"The whole concept of testing together was developed in Africa 20 years ago," said Robert Stephenson, who leads the Atlanta study. "The HIV epidemic in Africa is similar to the MSM [men who have sex with men] epidemic in the U.S. -- the main risk [of contracting HIV] is from your main partner."
In Africa, testing heterosexual couples together helped reduce HIV risk from 25 percent to 7 percent, Stephenson said. The Atlanta site began enrolling couples nine months ago, and aims to have about 100 couples total, he said. The goal is to see how couples-based HIV testing and counseling affects HIV-related behavioral risks.
The couples-testing process takes on assumptions, especially by discussing intimate issues with a trained counselor, Stephenson said.
"How awesome would it be if you have the person who cared for you the most be there with you with a trained counselor?" said Stephenson.
The study is not about forcing a person's sexual history out into the open, Stephenson emphasized. "This is a very different model of counseling where the status of the relationship is discussed and we talk about agreements -- this study is very forward-thinking."
For more information about the study, telephone Jasper Barnes at 404-849-5534 or email Jasper.L.Barnes@emory.edu.
Georgia Voice (Atlanta)
04.01.2011; Dyana Bagby
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