Background: In the recent years, the Internet has been used as a medium to find sexual partners and engage in risky sexual behavior. This has changed the way in which men having have sex with men (MSM) seek sexual partners and has increased the number of high-risk sexual encounters. Therefore, developers of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-prevention interventions have also started using the Internet as a viable medium to promote safe sexual behaviors. However, much of the efforts thus far have been aimed at HIV-negative rather than HIV-positive MSM. HIV-positive individuals continue to engage in risky sexual behaviors and thus constitute an important group in which HIV prevention strategies need to be addressed. Therefore, HIV prevention in HIV-positive MSM is a critical issue.
Objective: Condom-Him, an Internet-based intervention tailored to increase condom use among HIV-positive MSM, was developed with the aim of improving condom use, self-efficacy, and intentions to use condoms among these individuals. The acceptability and feasibility of this Internet-based intervention will be examined in a pilot study.
Methods: We will perform a randomized controlled parallel-group superiority trial. HIV-positive MSM who currently engage in unprotected anal sex will be recruited for the study. Participants will be randomly assigned using a one-to-one allocation ratio generated by the computer program. The researchers will be blinded to participant's group assignment. Participants will be assigned either to use the Condom-Him intervention (experimental arm) or to view a list of websites containing HIV/AIDS related information (control arm). Self-administered questionnaires will be provided online before randomization (baseline) and two weeks after intervention (post-test).
Results: The study will include a total of 60 participants with 30 in each group. The results from this pilot study will provide further evidence for a larger study to examine the effectiveness of this intervention and will provide a cost-effective and widely accessible approach to HIV prevention for HIV-positive MSM.
Conclusions: Internet-based interventions for HIV-positive MSM, a population that has been under-represented in the efforts for positive prevention of HIV within Canada, have the potential to provide a cost-effective strategy, which influences the way in which information is accessed and provided to high-risk individuals. The advantages of an Internet-based intervention include the potential to provide consistency in the delivery of an intervention and the ability to disseminate the intervention to a wider population. Internet-based interventions are perceived as vital tools in combating HIV infection within the realm of social media. Therefore, it is important to determine the feasibility and acceptability of these interventions before implementing them.
Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01726153; http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01726153 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6Jljzip8B).
Keywords: HIV prevention; HIV-positive; condom use; intention; intervention; men having sex with men; pilot study; self-efficacy.