Addressing sexual- and drug-related HIV risk among young gay, bisexual and other MSM (IS Team Grant)

(November 2017 – October 2022; CIHR)

Principal Investigator(s): Jean Shoveller and Rod Knight

Co-Investigators: Jade Boyd, Kora DeBeck, Nadia Fairbairn, Danya Fast, Olivier Ferlatte, Devon Greyson, Mohammad Karamouzian, Thomas Kerr, Andrea Krüsi, Nathan Lachowsky, Ryan McNeil, David Moore, John Oliffe, Travis Salway, Kate Shannon, Perry Kendall (pending CIHR approval)

Knowledge Partners: Sarah Chown (YouthCO), Joshua Edward (HIM), Mark Gilbert (BCCDC), Bonnie Henry (Provincial Health Officer-pending CIHR approval) and Evan Wood (BCCSU)

Research Coordinator: Anna Carson

This study aims to address the co-occurring rates of HIV and substance use among young gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM). Through work conducted on an earlier study (HIV Component 1: Adaptation Grant) our team identified and adapted several innovative and promising interventions to address sexual- and drug-related HIV risk among young gbMSM. These included: (a) Mpowerment, a community-initiated intervention that aims to enhance the health and well-being of young gay, bisexual and trans men; and (b) Health Initiative for Men (HIM), a non-governmental organization that provides gbMSM-centered sexual health services at five community clinics across Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. At a provincial and policy level, our team also includes three influential knowledge partners, including the BC Ministry of Health (BC MoH) and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC). Both have identified sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) and HIV-related outcomes as priorities for interventions among young gbMSM, including addressing co-morbidities that are known to increase sexual- and drug-related HIV risk (e.g., psychiatric comorbidities; addictions). The establishment of the BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) in 2016, another strategic knowledge partner, further reflects the prioritization of addressing substance use-related risks and harms, including through the development of clinical care guidance and the establishment of education and training programs in addictions medicine.

YouthCO (knowledge partner) has launched a province-wide expansion plan for the Mpowerment program. At the same time, HIM, another key knowledge partner on this application, has been funded to adapt and scale-up clinical programming to address sexual- and drug-related HIV risk, including the implementation of clinical services and programming across clinic locations throughout BC’s Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. This study offers an opportunity to study Mpowerment and HIM as ‘naturally unfolding experiments’ that are also intersecting critical aspects of BC’s multifaceted and unfolding intervention landscape.

Team aims:

Over the next five years, we will:

  1. Develop and use harmonized data systems to monitor and inform key intervention implementation decisions to reduce sexual- and drug-related HIV risk among young gbMSM;
  2. Identify new actionable strategies for adapting and scaling up interventions to reduce sexual- and drug-related HIV risk among young gbMSM in BC and
  3. Launch new training and mentoring opportunities and build multi-sectoral capacity to inform intervention implementation.

Research objectives:

Our team’s research objectives are to:

  1. Characterize and prospectively monitor patterns and contexts of substance use, sexual behaviour, and resultant health outcomes among young gbMSM in BC;
  2. Identify and respond to intervention implementation gaps, including instances where interventions differentially affect outcomes across population sub-groups of young gbMSM in BC and
  3. Identify the implementation factors that promote the effective, ethical and evidence-informed scale-up of interventions across contexts and population sub-groups of young gbMSM in BC.

Total: $1,999,999