Latino gay men constitute one of the most vulnerable groups in the nation for the transmission of HIV, showing some of the highest rates of seroprevalence, seroconversion, and unprotected anal intercourse with partners of unknown status. Recent studies of Latino gay men confirm that sexual risk behavior is more likely to occur when under the influence of methamphetamine (MA), with MA users reporting the highest rates (72%) of HIV risk for any Latino MSM subgroup studied to date.
Preliminary data suggest that through MA use, men achieve powerful effects – social, psychological, and sexual – that are subjectively and functionally significant in their lives, but often at a big cost to their physical, psychological and sexual well-being.
Our data also show that concerned friends of MA-using men can facilitate functional patterns of MA use and sexual behavior if they support, in non-judgmental ways, their user friends’ attempts to change and self-regulate.
The purpose of this project was to develop, implement and pilot-test three types/levels of interventions targeting Latino gay men in Los Angeles and San Francisco:
- A social marketing campaign that promotes a balanced community discourse contrasting MA’s “fabulous” effects with its “disastrous” consequences, as well as raising consciousness about the role friends can play in addressing the problem;
- A face-to-face group intervention to train concerned friends of MA-using men with principles of Motivational Interviewing; and;
- A face-to-face group intervention to intervene with MA-using men in order to promote self-regulation of drug use and sexual activity, the implementation of harm-reduction strategies, and referral to drug treatment programs, when appropriate.
All three levels of intervention will be guided by principles of Harm Reduction and Motivational Interviewing, and by the sociocultural model of HIV risk among Latino gay men where risk (sexual and substance-related) is understood as shaped by painful experiences of social discrimination on the basis of race, class and sexual orientation.
Intervention development was conducted in collaboration with members of the target audience, with community-based organizations that serve different segments of the Latino gay men population in each city, and with substance abuse treatment providers.