UCLA’s Hub for Health Intervention for Policy and Practice (HHIPP) believes communities hold the power to shape their well-being. Their NIH-funded uTECH study seeks to benefit the health of queer cismen, transmen, and nonbinary individuals (assigned male at birth) through technology.
Dr. Ian Holloway, principal investigator of the uTECH study, has spent his career researching how social media and new technologies can promote health and well-being. His work has focused specifically on HIV and other STI disease prevention. This new study innovates sexual health promotion research through the development of a machine-learning app and creates a tailored experience for participants based on their social media use.
“Collecting data in this way provides a personalized intervention for individuals at-risk of acquiring HIV through sex or substance use,” Dr. Holloway explained. The uTECH study application (called eWellness) directs participants to specific resources, including locations to acquire PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) or clinics offering substance use harm reduction.
“This data-driven approach, combined with virtual conversations with a counselor, provides holistic support to young men or nonbinary individuals who have sex with men,” he said.
What goes into participating in the uTECH study?
Participants in the study are asked to:
- Attend 4 goal-oriented virtual conversations with a counselor about reducing problem substance use and sexual risk.
- Attend 3 60-minute virtual sessions with the research team regarding social media use, sexual behavior, substance use, and HIV/STI testing history.
- Complete 2 additional online surveys.
- Complete 2 free, at-home HIV/STI testing kits.
- Download an app that allows researchers to collect mobile phone information for 12 months.
Who is eligible to participate?
To be eligible, participants must:
- be between 18-29 years old,
- identify as cisgender man, transgender man, or nonbinary person (assigned male at birth) who has sex with men;
- have used substances in the past 3 months;
- have used a social networking site for substance use and/or sexual partner seeking in the past 3 months, and;
- use an Android phone as their primary device.
To refer potentially eligible participants and for more information on the study as well as the link to the eligibility screener visit: http://www.utechstudy.com/.