The Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research is collaborating with a Houston-based nonprofit, the Montrose Center, to implement and evaluate an integrated treatment program, the Enhanced Integrated Treatment Program with Sexual Health in Recovery (EITP-SHIR). EITP-SHIR is an evidence-based intervention that aims to increase access to mental health, substance use, and sexual health treatment for African-American and Latino gay/bi men and transgender women who use club drugs during risky sex and are at high risk for contracting or transmitting HIV.
“The Montrose Center is implementing an innovative intervention that has the potential to improve retention in substance use treatment and recovery,” said J. Michael Wilkerson, PhD, Associate Professor, HPBS. “By providing an affirming space that allows for nonjudgmental conversations about how to experience sexual pleasure while minimizing harm, the program provided by the Center has the potential to transform the lives of its clients positively. The UTHealth evaluation team in the Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research is honored to work with Center staff on EITP-SHIR.”
The use of drugs before or during sex, or chemsex, is a public health concern and is most common among men who have sex with men. Gay/bi men and transgender women who engage in chemsex are more likely to be in situations that increase the risk of HIV transmission than persons not engaging in chemsex. An exciting and innovative aspect of the EITP-SHIR program is the focus on working with clients to identify new strategies for experiencing sexual pleasure while minimizing behaviors that might increase exposure to HIV or other health concerns.
The EITP-SHIR program uses an assessment of each client’s sexual health alongside the Integrated Treatment Program (ITP) to provide a tailored treatment plan. The ITP consists of several treatment formats, including:
- An intensive outpatient program format plus individual therapy and case management,
- A supportive outpatient program to address relapse prevention plus individual therapy and case management,
- Individual therapy plus case management.
The EITP-SHIR team developed a sexual health curriculum intended to improve Montrose Center staff competency and the delivery of services to better meet the needs of clients presenting with chemsex behaviors. The Center’s staff have received training on the sexual health curriculum, program implementation, data collection, and process and outcome evaluation. Key findings from the evaluation of the program indicate that Center staff are culturally competent and fully implement the evidence-based practices.
This project is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Wilkerson is leading the program evaluation.