GCU leads £127k NIHR research to improve HIV prevention

19 June 2014

Glasgow Caledonian University researchers are leading a new £127,000 project funded by the National Institute for Health Research – Health Technology Assessment, into the clinical effectiveness of behaviour change interventions to reduce risky sexual behaviour after a negative HIV test in men who have sex with men.

Preventing the spread of HIV is complex, both for the individual wishing to stay negative and for professionals and agencies wishing to reduce HIV incidence. HIV prevention interventions now aim to help people reduce transmission risks in many ways, such as through improved condom use, increased testing or provision of antiretroviral therapy.

Receiving a negative HIV test result offers an opportunity for a timely and meaningful intervention to help men reduce sexual risk taking. However, a recent audit found that in clinics behavioural interventions are not offered systematically to men who have sex with men (MSM) reporting high levels of HIV risk.

This study aims to establish the clinical effectiveness of behaviour change interventions to reduce risky sexual behaviour after a negative HIV test in MSM; how interventions work, for whom, why, and in which contexts and settings in relation to a variety of outcomes (e.g. condom use, HIV knowledge, HIV incidence); and provide clear direction of how interventions can be delivered.

Led by GCU’s Professor Paul Flowers, the research team will combine clinical, academic and public expertise to conduct a systematic review of the scientific literature, to influence policy regarding HIV testing and prevention in MSM.

GCU is also a partner in an NIHR study investigating the feasibility and acceptability of home sampling kits to increase the uptake of HIV testing among black Africans in the United Kingdom. The £410,000 Haus Study is led by University College London and has study sites in both London and Glasgow, each has a high prevalence of HIV in the African population, but they have distinct health care systems, differ in the proportion of Africans within their population, and in the provision of HIV and community services.

The project seeks to understand barriers and facilitators to provision, access and use of HIV HSK by black Africans, in primary care, pharmacies and community outreach. And its longer term aims are to conduct a phase II evaluation of selected HSK distribution models to assess feasibility, appropriateness of settings and optimal intervention design for future phase III evaluation.