To test a novel social network HIV risk-reduction intervention for MSM in Russia and Hungary, where same-sex behavior is stigmatized and men may best be reached through their social network connections.
A two-arm trial with 18 sociocentric networks of MSM randomized to the social network intervention or standard HIV/STD testing/counseling.
St. Petersburg, Russia and Budapest, Hungary.
Eighteen 'seeds' from community venues invited the participation of their MSM friends who, in turn, invited their own MSM friends into the study, a process that continued outward until eighteen three-ring sociocentric networks (mean size?=?35 members, n?=?626) were recruited.
Empirically identified network leaders were trained and guided to convey HIV prevention advice to other network members.
Changes in sexual behavior from baseline to 3-month and 12-month follow-up, with composite HIV/STD incidence, measured at 12 months to corroborate behavior changes.
There were significant reductions between baseline, first follow-up, and second follow-up in the intervention versus comparison arm for proportion of men engaging in any unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) (P?=?0.04); UAI with a nonmain partner (P?=?0.04); and UAI with multiple partners (P?=?0.002). The mean percentage of unprotected anal intercourse acts significantly declined (P?=?0.001), as well as the mean number of UAI acts among men who initially had multiple partners (P?=?0.05). Biological HIV/STD incidence was 15% in comparison condition networks and 9% in intervention condition networks.
Even where same-sex behavior is stigmatized, it is possible to reach MSM and deliver HIV prevention through their social networks.