California State University, Long Beach
Inside CSULB Logo

Research by Professor Recognized as Critical to Fight Against HIV/AIDS

Published: February 16, 2009

“Safe in the City,” an HIV/AIDS intervention program designed and evaluated by a research group that included a professor at CSULB, has been chosen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for inclusion in The 2008 Compendium of Evidence-based HIV Prevention Interventions.

CDC, the government’s lead agency for HIV prevention in the United States, analyzes program efficacy and compiles updates to the Compendium annually. To be included, programs must be scientifically proven to reduce HIV or STD-related risk behaviors or promote safer behaviors.

The 2008 Compendium is a single source of information that informs state and local HIV prevention programs about what works for preventing HIV infections and includes a total of 57 interventions. Safe in the City was one of just eight interventions added to the list this year.

“We’re very excited that the Safe in the City project was included in this issue of the Compendium. Interventions listed in this publication are the ones the CDC will support when they provide funding to local health departments, community-based organizations and other non-profit groups,” said Kevin Malotte, Archstone Endowed Chair and director of the CSULB Center for Health Care Innovation. Malotte served as the principal investigator for the Long Beach site during the evaluation study.

“Already, Safe in the City has been requested by more than 1,200 sites to be used in their waiting rooms,” he added. “So, it is probably the most widely distributed of the eight evidence-based interventions that were added to the compendium this year.”

Safe in the City is a single-session, video-based intervention project for diverse STD (sexually transmitted diseases) clinic patients. It involves the presentation of a 23-minute STD/HIV prevention video to patients in a clinic waiting room. The video contains key prevention messages aimed at increasing knowledge and perception of STD/HIV risk, promoting positive attitudes toward condom use and building self-efficacy and skills to facilitate partner treatment, safer sex and the acquisition, negotiation and use of condoms.

The video consists of three interwoven vignettes that model negotiating safer sexual behaviors among young couples of diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations. Animated segments demonstrate proper condom use and the variety of condoms available. Movie-style posters in the waiting room and exam rooms direct patients’ attention to the video and reinforce key messages.

The evaluation study was conducted at sites in three cities — Long Beach, San Francisco and Denver — between 2003 and 2005 with the goal of reducing new STD infections. During the average of 14.8 months of follow-up, significantly fewer new STDs were diagnosed for patients receiving the Safe in the City intervention than patients receiving the standard STD care.

Kevin Malotte

“During our evaluation study, the Safe in the City intervention did demonstrate about a 9 percent reduction in new infections, and that is a significant amount since this is a relatively easily implemented intervention,” Malotte pointed out. “This program has the potential to do a lot of good in communities across the United States.”

The CDC estimated that 56,300 new HIV infections occurred in 2006, according to Richard Wolitski, the CDC’s acting director for the Division of HIV and AIDS Prevention. Malotte noted that Wolitski earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Cal State Long Beach.

“As our nation continues to address the evolution of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States, we are constantly reminded of the burden this epidemic places on individuals and communities,” Wolitski said. “Preventing HIV infections from occurring in the first place is the only answer to curbing the burden over the long term. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is dedicated to researching, informing, funding, training, monitoring, and evaluating HIV prevention efforts.

“We know the uphill battle that HIV prevention faces at this point in the epidemic given the increasing number of people living with HIV,” Wolitski continued. “We also know that our prevention partners include extraordinarily dedicated state and local health departments, community-based organizations, schools and academic institutions and tens of thousands of researchers, public health workers and volunteers who are on the front lines, day in and day out, doing the hard work of prevention.”

Malotte proudly noted that of the 57 interventions listed in the 2008 Compendium, CSULB has been involved with five of them as investigators, including the projects RESPECT Brief Counseling, RESPECT Brief Counseling plus Booster, RESPECT Enhanced Counseling and Safety Counts. He also said that RESPECT and RESPECT-type counseling is used all over the United States by a variety of different groups.

“This speaks to the history of Cal State Long Beach researchers and their involvement in this important public health area,” Malotte said. “I don’t believe any other university in the United States has been involved in as many interventions that have been chosen for this Compendium publication.”