Theory-based Text Messaging to Reduce Methamphetamine Use and HIV Risks among MSM (lay title: Project Tech Support)

Principal Investigator: Cathy J. Reback, Ph.D.
Co-Investigator: Dallas Swendeman, Ph.D. (UCLA Semel Institute for Neurosciences and Human Behavior)
Funded By: National Institute on Drug Abuse
Grant #: R01DA035092
Total Project Period: 2/1/13 – 1/30/19

Methamphetamine use is highly associated with HIV infection due specifically to concomitant high-risk sexual behaviors that occur while using the drug. Text-messaging is a novel, feasible, and sustainable approach for targeting high-risk, out-of-treatment MSM; particularly, MSM who fail to attend face-to-face or site-based interventions. Project Tech Support will assess the impact of an 8-week, gay-specific, theory-based text-messaging intervention designed to decrease methamphetamine use and HIV sexual risk behavior and, for the HIV-infected participants, simultaneously increase HIV antiretroviral treatment/adherence in out-of-treatment, methamphetamine-using MSM (N = 285). Participants will receive text messages that are personally tailored to fit their risk profile; the theory-based text messages serve as the mechanisms of behavior change. Participants will be randomized into one of three conditions: Group 1: culturally relevant theory-based text messages interactively transmitted by peer health educators (TXT-PHE); or, Group 2: the same culturally relevant theory-based text messages transmitted by automation (TXT-Auto); or, Group 3: assessment-only (AO) control with no theoretically based text messages. Participants will receive brief weekly text-message assessments on their methamphetamine use and HIV sexual behaviors in the previous seven days. The specific aims of this research are: 1) To determine differential immediate and sustained effects of transmitting theory-based text messages by PHE (TXT-PHE) versus by automation (TXT-Auto), compared to an assessment-only (AO) control condition among out-of-treatment, methamphetamine-using MSM for reductions of methamphetamine use and HIV sexual risk behaviors; and, 2) To determine the cost-effectiveness of TXT-PHE vs. TXT-Auto compared to AO for reducing methamphetamine use and HIV sexual risk behaviors. The randomized three-group design uses repeated assessments at baseline, at the end of the intervention, and at 3-, 6-, and 9-month post-randomization follow-up