SafeTalk: Training Peers to Deliver a Motivational Interviewing HIV Prevention Program

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As multiple effective interventions emerge to reduce the spread of HIV, there is a need to implement and disseminate such programs cost-effectively, such as by expanding service delivery through integration of peer supporters. The benefits of peer support are well established. However, knowledge about peer counseling initiatives remain limited. This pilot study tested the feasibility, fidelity, and acceptability of a motivational interviewing (MI) counseling training with individuals living with HIV to serve as peer counselors in order to address medication adherence and safer sex. We adapted, SafeTalk, an evidence-based intervention previously delivered by health professionals to reduce risky sexual behaviors among people living with HIV. We trained six peers in a 5-day program (24 hours total) over a 2-month period. We used a combination of training observation, pre-and posttests, debriefing, and the Motivational Interviewing Treatment Integrity (MITI 3.1) scale 3.1 to assess implementation of the training. Results suggest the program was feasible, and there was positive acceptability. However, fidelity to MI was poor. While participants were dedicated and enthusiastic about the training and able to learn some skills and demonstrate the “spirit of MI,” they had difficulty with reflecting and moving away from giving direct advice. Training challenges and successes are discussed.

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