Providing home-based HIV testing and counseling for transgender youth (project moxie): Protocol for a pilot randomized controlled trial

Rob Stephenson, Nicholas Metheny, Akshay Sharma, Stephen Sullivan, Erin Riley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Transgender and gender nonconforming people experience some of the highest human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) rates in the United States, and experience many structural and behavioral barriers that may limit their engagement in HIV testing, prevention, and care. Evidence suggests that transgender and gender nonconforming youth (TY) are especially vulnerable to acquiring HIV, yet there is little research on TY and few services are targeted towards HIV testing, prevention, and care for this population. Telehealth presents an opportunity to mitigate some structural barriers that TY experience in accessing HIV testing, allowing TY to engage in HIV testing and counseling in a safe and nonjudgmental space of their choosing. Project Moxie is an HIV prevention intervention that pairs the use of HIV self-testing with remote video-based counseling and support from a trained, gender-affirming counselor. This study aims to offer a more positive HIV testing and counseling experience, with the goal of improving HIV testing frequency. Objective: Project Moxie involves a pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) of 200 TY aged 15-24 years, who are randomized on a 1:1 basis to control or intervention arms. The aim is to examine whether the addition of counseling provided via telehealth, coupled with home-based HIV testing, can create gains in routine HIV testing among TY over a six-month follow-up period. Methods: This study implements a prospective pilot RCT of 200 TY recruited online. Participants in the control arm will receive one HIV self-testing kit and will be asked to report their results via the study's website. Participants in the experimental arm will receive one HIV self-testing kit and will test with a remotely-located counselor during a prescheduled video-counseling session. Participants are assessed at baseline, and at three and six months posttesting. Results: Project Moxie was launched in June 2017 and recruitment is ongoing. As of August 21, 2017, the study had enrolled 130 eligible participants. Conclusions: Combining home-based HIV testing and video-based counseling allows TY, an often stigmatized and marginalized population, to test for HIV in a safe and nonjudgmental setting of their choosing. This approach creates an opportunity to reduce the high rate of HIV among TY through engagement in care, support, and linkage to the HIV treatment cascade for those who test positive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere237
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • HIV
  • Telemedicine
  • Transgender persons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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