1 Prior Treatment
Given the continued high human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevalence rates among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in North American cities, there is a critical need for HIV prevention interventions for MSM in Canada. Social anxiety, or anxiety about being evaluated in interpersonal and performance situations, is a reliable risk factor for condomless anal sex (CAS) among MSM. Social anxiety may also increase substance use in sexual situations, which is another risk factor for HIV among MSM. As such, an empirically-based social anxiety treatment may also reduce HIV risk behaviours among MSM. The present study will provide the first efficacy data for a novel and innovative HIV prevention intervention for MSM. This intervention will build upon empirically supported interventions to reduce HIV risk among MSM and therapies to reduce social anxiety. The investigators propose to test the efficacy of a novel integrated HIV prevention intervention that combines the most empirically supported treatment for social anxiety disorder, cognitive-behavioural therapy, with HIV risk reduction counselling in order to simultaneously treat social anxiety disorder, substance use disorders, and HIV sexual risk behaviour. This study will be a randomized controlled trial comparing the study intervention relative to applied relaxation, a behavioural intervention that is efficacious in treating social anxiety disorder but that does not address substance use problems or HIV sexual risk behaviours. For this trial, 176 participants will be randomized to either 12 sessions of cognitive-behavioural therapy with HIV risk reduction counselling or 12 sessions of applied relaxation.
Participants will be eligible for the trial if they are HIV-negative, report clinically significant symptoms of social anxiety disorder, substance use 2 hours before or during sexual activity, and CAS without the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with a male partner who was not known to be HIV-negative. PrEP is a biomedical prevention approach in which HIV-negative individuals are provided with daily oral antiretroviral medication for the primary prevention of HIV.126 The present intervention, if found to be efficacious, is innovative in that mental health clinicians will be able to not only extend empirically supported therapies tested primarily with heterosexual populations to MSM, but they will also be able to prevent HIV through empirically supported psychotherapy practice.