Researchers to study whether mobile health application can help reduce HIV risk among young women in North Carolina

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC— RTI International researchers will develop and test a mobile health application of an HIV risk reduction intervention for young, sexually-active, substance-using African American women in North Carolina.

The study aims to reach women ages 18 to 25 from low-resource communities who have not been recently tested for HIV. The five-year, cluster randomized trial is funded by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.

"This new intervention takes into account the need to still reach young women for HIV testing and also address their other life issues in the medium—like mobile technology—that they may be most comfortable interacting with," said Wendee Wechsberg, Ph.D., the study's principal investigator and director of RTI's Substance Use, Gender and Research Program.

The trial will recruit 700 young women to be tested for HIV within the health departments of Wake, Durham and Guilford counties.

The HIV risk reduction intervention is an adaptation of the original Women's CoOp, a women-focused HIV intervention developed by Wechsberg at RTI in North Carolina in the late 1990s. The Women's CoOp is classified as a best-evidence HIV behavioral prevention intervention by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Continuing HIV behavioral intervention work is important in North Carolina, where disparities in HIV persist," said Felicia Browne, research public health analyst at RTI and the study's project director.

RTI will host a conference to generate actionable solutions for ending gender inequalities April 12-13 at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. More information about the conference, titled, Ending Gender Inequalities: Addressing the nexus of HIV, drug use, and violence with evidence-based action, can be found here.

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