Theses Doctoral

Contemporary Approaches to Addressing HIV Prevention Needs Among Sexual and Gender Diverse Individuals in Kazakhstan

Lee, Yong Gun

Renewed efforts are needed to address rapidly rising HIV incidence among sexual and gender diverse (SGD) individuals—particularly cisgender gay, bisexual, and other men (MSM) and transgender and nonbinary individuals (TSM) who have sex with men—in Kazakhstan. Intervention research is uniquely positioned to advance HIV prevention through surveying factors shaping the HIV epidemic among MSM and TSM in Kazakhstan, developing and testing the effects of an HIV prevention intervention, and assessing overall social impacts of conducting research. This research proceeded to describe strategies and lessons learned during implementation of a stepped wedge clinical trial of an intervention designed to increase the number of MSM and TSM in the HIV care continuum in Kazakhstan cities of Almaty, Shymkent, and Nur-Sultan.

Thus, this three-paper dissertation aimed to: (1) identify psychosocial factors associated with lifetime, past-12-month, and past-6-month HIV testing among a sample of MSM and TSM enrolled in the clinical trial; (2) describe the process of implementing remote training of facilitators for remotely delivering the HIV preventive intervention; and (3) assess social impacts of participating in the clinical trial. MSM and TSM from the study cities were recruited into the clinical trial and administered a structured behavioral survey at their primary visit and at follow-up visits every six months thereafter.

After a period of no intervention implementation (‘pre-implementation period’), the intervention was implemented sequentially every six months in the study cities. Among 304 MSM and TSM enrolled in the clinical trial during the pre-implementation period, lifetime and past-12-month HIV testing were positively associated with polydrug use and negatively with sexual transmission HIV risk, and past-6-month HIV testing was negatively associated with sexual risk. The process of developing and implementing remote training of facilitators was guided by a protocol outlining phases involving formative assessment and planning, fundamentals training, and feedback loop and technical assistance.

Out of 627 MSM and TSM who completed their primary assessment during the clinical trial, 579 (92%) returned for at least one follow-up visit; of these individuals, 88% reported at least one positive social impact, while 2% reported at least one negative social impact. Findings underscore the value of expanding access to substance use treatment for HIV prevention among MSM and TSM in Kazakhstan, the viability of remote training of facilitators for remote intervention delivery, and the feasibility of conducting HIV prevention research involving MSM and TSM with many benefits and few risks.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
Wu, Elwin
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 24, 2022