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    We Are Family

    Emily Arnold, Principal Investigator

    The House Ball Community (HBC), made up of houses and the elaborate balls they perform in, exists in a number of cities across the United States, including the Los Angeles and Bay Area metropolitan areas in California. As a cultural phenomenon occurring in urban communities across the U.S., the HBC represents an innovative mechanism through which to promote regular HIV testing, linkage to, and engagement in care for African American Gay Bisexual and Transgender (AAGBT) youth, a population that suffers disproportionately high rates of HIV. This research team proposes to develop and conduct a preliminary test of an intervention for AAGBT youth who are involved in the Bay Area HBC. By eliciting content for an intervention that would mobilize existing social networks in the HBC, and designing an app to engage AAGBT youth more effectively, we aim to increase regular testing for HIV-negative youth, and increase immediate linkage and engagement in care for those who are HIV-positive.

    This study will develop, pilot test and evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of an HIV prevention intervention for African American gay bisexual and transgender youth who are involved in the House Ball Community (HBC) and Gay Families (GF). The specific aims of the study are: (1) To conduct formative research to develop the We Are Family (WAF) intervention to motivate HBC and GF members to reduce their sexual risk behavior, seek HIV testing at least every 6 months, and if they are HIV-positive, engage in and maintain care and treatment. (2) To develop and manualize the WAF intervention based on our formative research findings. (3) To pilot-test the WAF intervention, and assess its feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy in increasing regular HIV testing, and engagement in care and treatment. We will conduct baseline and 6 month follow up assessments of behavioral outcomes and theoretically-based mechanisms of change, and document best practices for an efficacy trial.