BACKGROUND: Limited data are available on interventions to reduce sexual risk behaviors and increase knowledge of HIV vaccine trial concepts in high-risk populations eligible to participate in HIV vaccine efficacy trials.
METHODS: The UNITY Study was a 2-arm randomized trial to determine the efficacy of enhanced HIV risk-reduction and vaccine trial education interventions to reduce the occurrence of unprotected vaginal sex acts and increase HIV vaccine trial knowledge among 311 HIV-negative noninjection drug using women. The enhanced vaccine education intervention using pictures along with application vignettes and enhanced risk-reduction counseling consisting of 3 one-on-one counseling sessions were compared with standard conditions. Follow-up visits at 1 week and 1, 6, and 12 months after randomization included HIV testing and assessment of outcomes.
RESULTS: During follow-up, the percent of women reporting sexual risk behaviors declined significantly but did not differ significantly by study arm. Knowledge of HIV vaccine trial concepts significantly increased but did not significantly differ by study arm. Concepts about HIV vaccine trials not adequately addressed by either condition included those related to testing a vaccine for both efficacy and safety, guarantees about participation in future vaccine trials, assurances of safety, medical care, and assumptions about any protective effect of a test vaccine.
CONCLUSIONS: Further research is needed to boost educational efforts and strengthen risk-reduction counseling among high-risk noninjection drug using women.