UCSF research team recruiting HIV-positive men for new study on sexual health and HIV prevention

By Leslie Harris

UCSF prevention scientists are looking for HIV-positive men to participate in a
new research study aimed at reducing sexual behaviors that can lead to HIV

Called “Bay Men,” the study is sponsored by the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention
Studies (CAPS).  It will focus on decreasing isolation of HIV-positive men and
engaging them in primary prevention of HIV.

The project is funded by a three-year grant from the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. 

Study participants will take part in large group sessions that combine a
support group format with social interaction.  The sessions are organized to
serve as a safe environment where HIV-positive men can meet other men living
with HIV for open discussion about the impact of sex, dating, personal health,
and other issues in their lives.

The study is among the first to target prevention strategies at persons who
have already tested positive for HIV.

“What makes ‘Bay Men’ different from other prevention research programs is that
it allows HIV-positive men to discuss the difficult issues they face - such as
disclosure of HIV, living with a terminal illness, and impact on one’s sexual
life—and to learn from each other.  And it is designed to provide a group
setting that is fun, safe, and social.  There will be food, music, even
theatrical performances,” said Cynthia A.Gomez, PhD, principal investigator
and assistant professor of medicine with UCSF CAPS.

The research team hopes to enroll 500 men over the next 12 months, according to
Byron Mason, recruitment coordinator for the study. 

Participants will be assigned randomly to one of two research groups.  One
group will meet for weekly sessions over six weeks, while the second will come
together for a one-time event.  When the program is completed, participants
will be interviewed after three months and six months about their attitudes and
behavioral patterns. 

“As an African-American gay man, I think one of the most exciting aspects of
this project is that we expect two-thirds of the participants to be men of
color, which will fulfill an important need in the research community because
HIV is increasing at an alarming rate in this population group,” Mason said.

The program was developed in consultation with a 15-member community advisory
board comprised of HIV-positive gay and bisexual men from the Bay Area.

To enroll in the “Bay Men” research study, call toll-free 888-9-BAYMEN
(888-922-9636).  For general information about the project, contact Gomez at
UCSF CAPS at 415-597-9267.

UCSF CAPS is part of the UCSF AIDS Research Institute, a campuswide enterprise
without walls that encompasses all UCSF AIDS programs under a single umbrella
and includes close to 1,000 investigators.  Thomas J. Coates, PhD, is
executive director of the UCSF ARI, which is dedicated to cutting edge advances
in HIV clinical care, prevention and health services, policy, immune
reconstitution, and vaccine development.