School of Nursing Awarded Grant to Develop Mobile HIV Intervention for High-Risk Young Men

Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) comprise more than half the population living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. despite accounting for just 2 percent of the population. A research team led by Rebecca Schnall, PhD, assistant professor at Columbia University School of Nursing, was awarded a $7.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to address this disparity by testing an HIV prevention mobile app specifically developed for high risk young men.

The project, a five-year, multisite clinical trial, will adapt and test MyPEEPS, an evidence driven intervention using mobile phone technology to deliver HIV prevention information to diverse, high risk, adolescent MSM. The randomized controlled trial will be conducted across four geographically diverse sites: Birmingham, Ala.; Chicago; New York City; and Seattle using 700 racially and ethnically diverse 13-18 year old men with HIV negative or unknown status. MyPEEPS is an existing in-person intervention aimed at this population. The intervention employs a curriculum consisting of six modules that cover topics including correct condom use, dealing with stigma and shame, and tips on communicating effectively about safer sex. To increase its accessibility, the research team will develop MyPEEPS Mobile, a web-based version of the intervention accessible by mobile and desktop devices. The mobile version will feature games, videos, and interactive scenarios.

Schnall jointly leads this project with co-principal investigator Robert Garofalo, MD, division head of adolescent medicine at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; Professor of Pediatrics, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Garafalo’s team developed and pilot tested the original MyPEEPS intervention.

"Our aim is to provide this population with information to make better health decisions,” said Schnall. “Young, diverse MSM are the most at-risk for HIV infection, and there is a  dearth of evidence-based interventions targeting this community. There is much evidence that mobile tech is a great way to connect with this generation and by meeting them where they are, we are hopeful about the intervention’s potential to decrease infections.”

The research team hopes that this investigation will lead to increased insights on how to reduce HIV infection among diverse, young MSM in the U.S.

The grant “A Pragmatic Clinical Trial of MyPEEPS Mobile to Improve HIV Prevention Behaviors in Diverse Adolescent MSM” is  funded by the National Institute on Minority and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health (U01MD011279).

Source: Columbia University School of Nursing