A HIV prevention program developed by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles and the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles has shown success in reducing the incidence of unprotected sex among bisexual African American men.
The Men of African American Legacy Empowering Self (MAALES) program engaged Black men in small discussion groups on safe sex practices and sexual health that were focused on men who had sex with both women and men. The discussions also included culturally relevant discussions that were centered upon Black men.
The researchers initially surveyed more than 400 bisexual Black men on their sexual practices and behaviors. The men were separated into two groups. One group participated in a six-session intervention program. The other group attended just one meeting about general HIV prevention. The men were then surveyed three months after the end of the program and again six months after they had participated in the sessions.
The results showed that the men who participated in the six interventions sessions had 49 percent fewer incidents of unprotected sex with partners of both genders than the men who were in the control group and had the one HIV prevention clinic session.
“Despite these study limitations, our statistically significant findings demonstrate not only the promise of this intervention but also the ability to bring about important behavioral change through culturally tailored behavioral intervention approaches,” said 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 study’s co-principal investigator.
“Health interventions that address more than just physical, mental and sexual health may be vital for groups like black men who have sex with men and women whose concerns regarding HIV stigma, biphobia, homophobia and financial hardship may complicate engagement in HIV biomedical prevention and treatment,” Williams said.