An online intervention ( designed to mitigate sexual risk behaviors among young black men who have sex (MSM) with men has demonstrated efficacy in reducing such behaviors in the short term, according to a study recently published in AIDS and Behavior. However, those who stayed with the intervention for less than 1 year did not sustain behavioral changes.

This randomized controlled trial included 474 individuals, 66.7% of whom identified as gay and 42.0% of whom had HIV at study initiation. Of these, 194 were assigned to, and 210 were assigned to an information-only site as controls. Compared to the control group, self-reported anal sex without a condom was 32% lower among the intervention group at 3 months (95% CI, 0.43-0.93). This effect was not sustained at the 1-year mark. The intervention group also spent significantly more total time than controls on their respective website (102.6 [standard deviation (SD) =224.97] min vs 23.90 [SD=61.87] min, respectively).

The 3-month rate of condomless anal sex among those with detectable viral loads of HIV in the intervention group was 82% less than controls (95% CI, 0.04-0.32). A further analysis, which excluded those who had used the intervention website for less than an hour during the 3-month period, revealed approximately 4.85 (95% CI, 2.15-7.53) fewer instances of condomless anal sex than among controls.

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Following enrollment, individuals were given a computer-assisted self-interviewing survey using Qualtrics software and were randomly assigned to either intervention or control. Further information was gathered using follow-up surveys. Participants were asked to disclose the number of condomless anal sex acts in the previous 3 months as well as the HIV status of any male partners with whom they had intercourse. Information on substance use, social support/isolation, and symptoms of depression was also gathered. The impact of intervention on change in condomless anal sex was estimated using a linear mixed modelling framework.

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The study researchers concluded that “[their] study provides evidence for the efficacy of [] to reduce sexual risk behaviors among young black MSM, particularly among the subset of participants who utilized the intervention for a greater amount of time. Behavioral changes were not sustained over 12 months. These findings suggest that while [] can be effective for some young black MSM, a non-directed online intervention may not be enough to sustain behavior changes.”


Hightow-Weidman LB, LeGrand S, Muessig KE, et al. A randomized trial of an online risk reduction intervention for young black MSM [published online September 29, 2018]. AIDS Behav. doi: 10.1007/s10461-018-2289-9