Friends Care I

The majority of new HIV infections across Los Angeles County continue to be found among men who have sex with other men (MSM).  Within MSM, stimulant abuse, particularly methamphetamine abuse, is the major factor in driving new infections, primarily via behavioral disinhibition contributing MSM methamphetamine users to engage in extremely high-risk sexual transmission behaviors.

Friends Care combines the biomedical intervention of Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) for HIV prevention with the behavioral intervention Contingency Management (CM), which targets reduction of methamphetamine use as a way of reducing concomitant high-risk sexual behaviors for HIV-negative, methamphetamine-using MSM.

Friends Care will enroll 49 HIV-negative, methamphetamine-using MSM into the CM component of the dual intervention.  Participants receive a baseline assessment including urine analysis for the presence of methamphetamine metabolites, a rapid oral HIV antibody test, a physical examination including a comprehensive metabolic panel and complete blood count, HIV/STI prevention information, and medication adherence information.  Following baseline assessments, participants begin an 8-week, 3x/week, CM intervention and are given a 4-day starter pack of tenofivir with emtricitabine (i.e., Truvada).  Participants earn vouchers for methamphetamine metabolite-free urine samples, which are redeemable for goods and services.

In the event of an unexpected high-risk sexual exposure to HIV, i.e., unprotected anal intercourse with an HIV-positive or status unknown partner, participants are instructed to immediately call the clinic and begin the 4-dose starter pack of Truvada. An appointment with the physician is scheduled within 96 hours of the participant’s first dose of Truvada; participants then receive a second rapid oral HIV antibody test and are given the additional 24-day pack of Truvada. Participants return to the clinic at 3-months post baseline for a follow-up evaluation and a third rapid oral HIV antibody test.

In combining these two interventions in this unique program, Friends Care aims to reduce methamphetamine use and concomitant high-risk sexual behaviors, while reducing potential seroconversions.