UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
This A-START application proposes formative research aimed at understanding the role of illicit drugs in the transmission dynamics of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV among 18-30 year old African Americans (AA) living in high-risk neighborhoods. The study has two specific aims: 1) collect pilot data on drug behaviors, drug-related incarceration history, and sexual behaviors of young AA adults living in HIV/STI high prevalence community areas of Chicago, and 2) determine the feasibility of using respondent-driven sampling (RDS) to recruit a large sexual network of young AA adults living in a bounded high-risk community area. Pilot data (Aim 1) will be collected through 8 focus groups of 8 members each, stratified by age and gender. Focus group participants will be recruited via flyers and street outreach in the target high-risk community areas. Focus groups will be aimed at understanding young AA adults’ drug and sex practices that put them at risk for STIs/HIV, perceived impact of incarceration on STIs/HIV in their communities, perceptions of risk, and use of STI/HIV prevention/treatment resources. Aim 2—determining the feasibility of using RDS to recruit a sexual network of young AA adults—initial recruits or “seeds” will be given incentives to recruit their sex partners, who will then be asked to recruit their sex partners and so on until an N of 200 is reached and potential problems using RDS to recruit sex partners in the target group are identified and overcome. All participants from both Aims will be asked to complete a brief risk behavior survey via ACASI and a brief sexual network questionnaire describing their sex partners. All participants will be offered HIV testing and referrals for STI testing/treatment. Descriptive analyses will be performed for survey and test result data. Focus group and qualitative interview sessions will be transcribed and analyzed to identify both the range and major themes regarding risky drug and sexual behavioral patterns and perceptions of risk. All data produced from this research will be used to inform the development of a subsequent proposal that will use a social network perspective to better understand partner concurrency and the role of illicit drugs in the transmission dynamics of STIs and HIV among young adult African Americans living in HIV/STI high-prevalence urban neighborhoods.