Work2Prevent, an Employment Intervention Program as HIV Prevention for Young Men Who Have Sex With Men and Transgender Youth of Color (Phase 3): Protocol for a Single-Arm Community-Based Trial to Assess Feasibility and Acceptability in a Real-World Setting

JMIR Res Protoc. 2020 Sep 11;9(9):e18051. doi: 10.2196/18051.


Background: In the United States, young cisgender men who have sex with men (YMSM), young transgender women (YTW), and gender nonconforming (GNC) youth face elevated rates of HIV infection. However, racial and ethnic disparities in adolescent HIV infection cannot be attributed to individual-level factors alone and are situated within larger social and structural contexts that marginalize and predispose sexual and gender minority youth of color to HIV. Addressing broader ecological factors that drive transmission requires interventions that focus on the distal drivers of HIV infection, including violence exposure, housing, food insecurity, educational attainment, and employment. Given the ways that economic instability may make YMSM, YTW, and GNC youth of color vulnerable to HIV exposure, this study focuses on employment as an HIV prevention intervention. More specifically, the intervention, called Work2Prevent (W2P), targets economic stability through job readiness and employment as a means of preventing behaviors and factors associated with adolescent and young adult HIV, such as transactional sex work and homelessness. The intervention was adapted from iFOUR, an evidence-based employment program for HIV-positive adults in phase 1 of this study, and pilot tested in a university-based setting in phase 2.

Objective: This paper aims to describe the protocol for the community-based test phase of W2P. The purpose of this phase was to pilot test a tailored, theoretically informed employment intervention program among YMSM, YTW, and GNC youth of color within a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community setting.

Methods: The employment intervention was pilot tested using a single-arm pretest-posttest trial design implemented among a sample of vulnerable YMSM, YTW, and GNC youth of color using services within a community-based LGBTQ center. Assessments will examine intervention feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary estimates of efficacy.

Results: Phase 3 of W2P research activities began in May 2019 and was completed in December 2019. Overall, 41 participants were enrolled in the community-based pilot.

Conclusions: This study will assess intervention feasibility and acceptability in the target populations and determine preliminary efficacy of the intervention to increase employment and reduce vulnerability to HIV when implemented in a community-based setting serving LGBTQ youth of color. Testing the intervention in a community setting is an opportunity to evaluate how recruitment, retention, and other outcomes are impacted by delivery in a venue akin to where this intervention could eventually be used by nonresearchers. If W2P demonstrates feasibility and acceptability, a larger multisite trial implemented in multiple community settings serving YMSM, YTW, and GNC youth of color is planned.

Trial registration: NCT03313310;

International registered report identifier (irrid): DERR1-10.2196/18051.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS; LGBTQ; YMSM; YTW; gender nonconforming youth; homelessness; sex work; unemployment; young men who have sex with men; young transgender women; youth.

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