Lessons Learned from Use of Social Network Strategy in HIV Testing Programs Targeting African American Men Who Have Sex with Men.

Donna H. McCree is with the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia. Gregorio Millett is with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Washington, DC. Chanza Baytop and Scott Royal are with Abt Associates, Bethesda, MD. Jonathan Ellen is with the Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Perry N. Halkitis and Sandra A. Kupprat are with the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies, Steinhardt School of Culture and Human Development, New York University, New York, NY. Sara Gillen is with Community Health Services, Harlem United, New York, NY.
American Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 4.55). 08/2013; 103(10). DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301260
Source: PubMed


We report lessons derived from implementation of the Social Network Strategy (SNS) into existing HIV counseling, testing, and referral services targeting 18- to 64-year-old Black gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM).

The SNS procedures used in this study were adapted from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded, 2-year demonstration project involving 9 community-based organizations (CBOs) in 7 cities. Under the SNS, HIV-positive and HIV-negative men at high risk for HIV (recruiters) were enlisted to identify and recruit persons from their social, sexual, or drug-using networks (network associates) for HIV testing. Sites maintained records of modified study protocols for ascertaining lessons learned. The study was conducted between April 2008 and May 2010 at CBOs in Washington, DC, and New York, New York, and at a health department in Baltimore, Maryland.

Several common lessons regarding development of the plan, staffing, training, and use of incentives were identified across the sites. Collectively, these lessons indicate use of SNS is resource-intensive, requiring a detailed plan, dedicated staff, and continual input from clients and staff for successful implementation.

SNS may provide a strategy for identifying and targeting clusters of high-risk Black MSM for HIV testing. Given the resources needed to implement the strategy, additional studies using an experimental design are needed to determine the cost-effectiveness of SNS compared with other testing strategies.

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