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An Employment Intervention Program (Work2Prevent) for Young Men Who Have Sex With Men and Transgender Youth of Color (Phase 2): Protocol for a Single-Arm Mixed Methods Pilot Test to Assess Feasibility and Acceptability

Hill, B. J.; Motley, D. N.; Rosentel, K.; VandeVusse, A.; Garofalo, R.; Schneider, J. A.; Kuhns, L. M.; Kipke, M. D.; Reisner, S.; Rupp, B. M.; Sanchez, M.; McCumber, M.; Renshaw, L.; West Goolsby, R.; Loop, M. S.

JMIR Res Protoc. 2020 Aug 11; 9(8):e16401


BACKGROUND: Young cisgender men who have sex with men (YMSM), young transgender women (YTW), and gender nonconforming (GNC) youth of color face substantial economic and health disparities. In particular, HIV risk and infection among these groups remains a significant public health issue. In 2017, 17% of all new HIV diagnoses were attributed to male-to-male sexual contact among adolescents and young adults aged 13 to 24 years. However, such disparities cannot be attributed to individual-level factors alone but rather are situated within larger social and structural contexts that marginalize and predispose YMSM, YTW, and GNC youth of color to increased HIV exposure. Addressing social and structural risk factors requires intervention on distal drivers of HIV risk, including employment and economic stability. The Work2Prevent (W2P) study aims to target economic stability through job readiness and employment as a structural-level intervention for preventing adolescent and young adult HIV among black and Latinx YMSM, YTW, and GNC youth. This study seeks to assess intervention feasibility and acceptability in the target populations and determine preliminary efficacy of the intervention to increase employment and reduce sexual risk behaviors. OBJECTIVE: The goal of the research is to pilot-test a tailored, theoretically informed employment intervention program among YMSM, YTW, and GNC youth of color. This intervention was adapted from Increased Individual Income and Independence, an existing evidence-based employment program for HIV-positive adults during phase 1 of the W2P study. METHODS: The employment intervention will be pilot-tested among vulnerable YMSM, YTW, and GNC youth of color in a single-arm pre-post trial to assess feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary estimates of efficacy. RESULTS: Research activities began in March 2018 and were completed in November 2019. Overall, 5 participants were enrolled in the pretest and 51 participants were enrolled in the pilot. CONCLUSIONS: Interventions that address the social and structural drivers of HIV exposure and infection are sorely needed in order to successfully bend the curve in the adolescent and young adult HIV epidemic. Employment as prevention has the potential to be a scalable intervention that can be deployed among this group. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03313310; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03313310. INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED REPORT IDENTIFIER (IRRID): DERR1-10.2196/16401.

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