Adaptation of a Couple-Based HIV Intervention for Methamphetamine-Involved African American Men who have Sex with Men

Elwin Wu*, 1, Nabila El-Bassel1, L. Donald McVinney2, Yves-Michel Fontaine1, Leona Hess1
1 Social Intervention Group, Columbia University School of Social Work, New York, NY, USA
2 Harlem United, New York, NY, USA

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© Wu et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Social Intervention Group, Columbia University School of Social Work, 1255 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY, USA; Tel: 212.851.2397; E-mail:


In the U.S., incidence of HIV infection among men who have sex with men (MSM) has steadily increased since the 1990s. This points to a need for innovation to address both emerging trends as well as longer-standing disparities in HIV risk and transmission among MSM, such as the elevated rates of HIV/STIs among African American MSM and methamphetamine users. While couple-based sexual risk reduction interventions are a promising avenue to reduce HIV/STI transmission, prior research has been almost exclusively with heterosexual couples. We sought to adapt an existing, evidence-based intervention—originally developed and tested with heterosexual couples—for a new target population consisting of African American MSM in a longer-term same-sex relationship where at least one partner uses methamphetamine. The adaptation process primarily drew from data obtained from a series of focus groups with 8 couples from the target population. Attention is given to the methods used to overcome challenges faced in this adaptation process: limited time, a lead investigator who is phenotypically different from the target population, a dearth of descriptive information on the experiences and worldviews among the target population, and a concomitant lack of topical experts. We also describe a visualization tool used to ensure that the adaptation process promotes and maintains adherence to the theory that guides the intervention and behavior change. The process culminated with an intervention adapted for the new target population as well as preliminary indications that a couple-based sexual-risk reduction intervention for African American, methamphetamine-involved male couples is feasible and attractive.

Keywords: HIV, prevention, adaptation, men who have sex with men, African American, methamphetamine, couples..