Impact of a community-level intervention on HIV stigma, homophobia and HIV testing in New York City: Results from project CHHANGE.

HIV stigma and homophobia are barriers to access to HIV prevention and treatment services. Project CHHANGE, Challenge HIV Stigma and Homophobia and Gain Empowerment, was a multicomponent intervention designed to reduce community-level HIV stigma and homophobia via workshops, space-based events, and bus shelter ads delivered to community-based organizations and neighborhood residents in a high HIV prevalence, primarily African American, Black and/or Afro-Caribbean, neighborhood in New York City (NYC). Serial cross-sectional, street intercept surveys among residents of the invention neighborhood and matched control neighborhood were conducted before and after the intervention. Propensity score matching and generalized estimating equation regression models assessed the impact of CHHANGE on HIV stigma and homophobia. HIV testing service utilization data were assessed and multivariable models of self-reported HIV testing among postintervention street survey respondents were built. We did not find a significant treatment effect on HIV stigma and homophobia among residents of the intervention neighborhood as compared with control community residents. However, HIV testing increased by 350% at the testing site in the intervention community after the intervention implementation. Furthermore, lower HIV stigma, attending an HIV stigma workshop, and having friends or family living with HIV were independently associated with past 6-month HIV testing among postintervention respondents in both neighborhoods. CHHANGE was feasible and acceptable to community residents. Evaluating community-level interventions is challenging. Our triangulated approach yielded somewhat conflicting results, which may be due to design limitations. Further research is needed to understand whether and how CHHANGE affected HIV testing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)