HIV-positive Latino and African-American young men who have sex with men (YMSM) have low rates of engagement and retention in HIV care. An evaluation of a youth-focused case management intervention (YCM) designed to improve retention in HIV care is presented. HIV-positive Latino and African-American YMSM, ages 18-24, who were newly diagnosed with HIV or in intermittent HIV care, were enrolled into a psychosocial case management intervention administered by Bachelor-level peer case managers at two HIV clinics in Los Angeles County, California. Participants met weekly with a case manager for the first two months and monthly for the next 22 months. Retention in HIV primary care at three and six months of follow-up was evaluated as were factors associated with retention in care. From April 2006 to April 2009, 61 HIV-positive participants were enrolled into the intervention (54% African-American, 46% Latino; mean age 21 years). At the time of enrollment into the intervention, 78% of the YMSM had a critical or immediate need for stable housing, nutrition support, substance abuse treatment, or mental health services. Among intervention participants (n=61), 90% were retained in primary HIV care at three months and 70% at six months. Among those who had previously been in intermittent care (n=33), the proportion attending all HIV primary care visits in the previous six months increased from 7% to 73% following participation in the intervention (p<0.0001). Retention in HIV care at six months was associated with increased number of intervention visits (p=0.05), more hours in the intervention (p=0.02), and prescription of HAART. These data highlight the critical needs of HIV-positive African-American and Latino YMSM and demonstrate that a clinic-based YCM can be effective in stabilizing hard-to-reach clients and retaining them in consistent HIV care.
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