Amirkhanian, Y. A., Kelly, J. A., Takacs, J., et al. AIDS (March 2015), Vol. 29 Issue 5, pp. 583–593.
This study assessed the impact of social network interventions on sexual risk behavior among men who have sex with men (MSM). Between 2007–2012, the authors recruited 626 high-risk MSM from 18 networks (10 networks in Russia and 8 in Hungary) and randomized entire networks to receive either voluntary HIV counseling and testing (HTC) for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV alone, or HTC in addition to a social network intervention. The social network intervention included training and guidance to help network leaders advise members on HIV prevention. All participants completed self-administered behavioral questionnaires three months after the intervention, and both behavioral assessment and repeat HIV/STI testing at 12-month follow-up. Among intervention participants, the proportion who engaged in any unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) declined from 54 percent at baseline to 38 percent at the three-month follow-up and 43 percent at 12-month follow-up, whereas UAI incidence among comparison participants was largely unchanged. Additionally, the proportion of men who engaged in UAI with a non-primary sexual partner declined significantly in intervention networks (from 18 percent at baseline to 9 percent at 12 months) while again remaining almost unchanged among comparison networks. The authors concluded that MSM could be reached with prevention messages through their social networks, even in environments where same-sex behavior was highly stigmatized.