Project Eban: An HIV/STD Intervention for African American Couples

Witte, Susan S.; Wu, Elwin; El-Bassel, Nabila; Gilbert, Louisa; NIMH Multisite HIV/STD Prevention Trial for African American Couples Group

Objective: To describe the Eban HIV/STD Risk Reduction Intervention being evaluated in the NIMH Multisite HIV/STD Prevention trial for heterosexual African American couples, including the integrated theoretical framework, the structure, core elements and procedures of the intervention and how the content was shaped by culturally congruent concepts to address the needs of the study target population. Design: The Eban HIV/STD Risk Reduction Intervention is designed to address multilevel individual, interpersonal and community level factors that contribute to HIV/STD transmission risk behaviors among heterosexual African American couples who are HIV serodiscordant. Methods: The Eban HIV/STD Risk Reduction Intervention employs a mixed modality, couples-based approach that is based on an integrated ecological framework incorporating social cognitive theory and uses an Afro-centric paradigm that is informed by previous evidence-based couples HIV prevention interventions. For this randomized controlled trial, African American serodiscordant couples were recruited from four urban sites (Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia) and were randomized to either the Eban HIV/STD Risk Reduction Intervention (treatment condition) or a Health Promotion Intervention that served as an attentional control condition. Both interventions had 4 individual couple sessions and 4 group sessions, but only the treatment condition was focused on reducing HIV/STD risk behaviors. Behavioral and biological data were collected at baseline, immediately after the intervention, and at 6 and 12 months. The theoretical framework, core elements and content of each session are described and lessons learned from this intervention trial are discussed. Results: An HIV prevention intervention combining couple and group sessions can be feasibly implemented with African American HIV serodiscordant couples who remain at high risk of HIV/STD transmission. The lessons learned from the trial suggest that the participants responded very well to both the couple and group sessions. Participant feedback suggests that the cultural congruence of the intervention and use of African American co-facilitators made them feel comfortable disclosing risky behaviors. Participant feedback also suggests that the intervention’s couples-based focus on enhancing dyadic communication and decision-making skills were key to helping the couples work together to overcome barriers to using condoms. Conclusion: Participant and facilitator evaluations of the Eban Risk Reduction Intervention suggest that couples responded well to the Afro-centric content and mixed modalities of the intervention sessions. Couple sessions were optimal for enhancing interpersonal and microlevel factors, including communication, problem solving, and decision making.

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Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes

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Social Work
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July 31, 2012