In 2009, the MICHR Pilot Grant Program through the Community University Research Partnership Award (CURES) funded a study called “Building a Technology-Enhanced Social Network Intervention to Promote HIV Testing Among Young Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM),” which was highlighted in Translator last month. The research partnership includes the HIV and AIDS Resource Center (HARC), which serves southeast Michigan, and the U-M Schools of Information and Public Health. With HIV/AIDS cases doubling among youth in Michigan between 2002 and 2006, this pilot aimed to better understand the role of psychosocial factors and local social and sexual networks in Washtenaw-area young MSM's decisions to have an HIV test. The pilot team conducted both qualitative interviews and a web survey with racially/ethnically diverse young MSM regarding their HIV testing decisions, online behaviors, and personal network characteristics.
Results from this pilot have been used to inform HARC’s collaborative with AIDS Partnership Michigan, an HIV testing promotion campaign, and the Get Connected test locator as well as helping to secure additional funding from multiple sources including MAC AIDS Fund, the Ford Foundation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Project results that were published in AIDS Behavior (2013), Journal of Medical Internet Research (2013), and Journal of the American Society for Information Science & Technology (2014) have stressed the importance of addressing self-efficacy among this population to reduce risky behavior, identified the role of everyday life information exposure and use in HIV testing decisions, and developed a new model on how informatics interventions can also be designed as community-level interventions.
Community co-PI and HARC executive director Jimena Loveluck commented on capacity built within the community. She says, “The research findings are specific to our community and have already been used to guide HIV prevention interventions at the community level.”
Academic co-PIs Tiffany Veinot and Jose Bauermeister added, “The community PI was involved in all stages of the study, from instrument design to recruitment to data analysis to preparation of conference abstracts. The community partner contributed deep knowledge of our audiences to data analysis, and helped to identify ways in which findings could be translated into services.” This pilot illustrates the value of partnerships in research and ways community-engaged approaches can build capacity for both community and academic partners.
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