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A randomized controlled efficacy trial of behavioral activation for concurrent stimulant use and sexual risk for HIV acquisition among MSM: project IMPACT study protocol



In the United States, problematic stimulant use is a prevalent and difficult to treat problem among men who have sex with men (MSM), as well as a major driver of HIV transmission through the large number of sexual partners and concomitant condomless anal sex (CAS). Evidence-based behavioral studies that address problematic stimulant use in MSM at risk for HIV infection are also lacking. In this paper, we describe the design of a behavioral intervention trial to reduce sexual risk behavior and stimulant use in HIV-uninfected MSM.


This study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) testing an integrated HIV risk reduction and behavioral activation counseling intervention (IMPACT) for HIV-uninfected, stimulant using MSM in Boston, MA, and Miami, FL. Participants are randomized (2:2:1) to either (1) the IMPACT intervention; (2) a relaxation condition, an active therapy time- and intensity-matched control; or (3) a standard of care risk reduction counseling comparison. At enrollment, all participants receive an HIV test and pre- and post-test counseling. The primary outcome is the difference in the rate of change in the number of self-reported condomless anal sex acts without the protection of consistent Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) use, as well as reductions in stimulant use during the prior 4-months. Major assessments are conducted at baseline, 4-, 8-, and 12-month follow-up visits.


Effective and sustainable behavioral interventions are sorely needed to reduce HIV acquisition in stimulant using MSM at risk for HIV infection. In this study, we will evaluate the evidence of efficacy of the IMPACT intervention to reduce HIV acquisition in HIV-uninfected, stimulant-using MSM. If found effective, the intervention tested here holds promise for being readily integrated into real-world clinical settings.

Trial registration number NCT03175159 , registered June 5, 2017.

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