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Psychotherapy (Chic). 2019 Aug 1. doi: 10.1037/pst0000243. [Epub ahead of print]

AWARENESS: Development of a cognitive-behavioral intervention to address intersectional minority stress for sexual minority men living with HIV who use substances.

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University of California, San Francisco.


Sexual minority (i.e., nonheterosexual) individuals are at greater risk than heterosexual individuals for substance use and poor mental health attributed to exposure to minority stress (Meyer, 2003). Minority stress is stress that places an additional burden on sexual minority people over and above the stress experienced by heterosexual people. Sexual minority men may also be subject to minority stress related to intersecting identities or individual characteristics (e.g., HIV status, race). This study obtained initial feedback about the AWARENESS intervention from sexual minority men living with HIV who use substances and determined the feasibility of the intervention to address minority stress related to intersecting identities. AWARENESS is a 9-session cognitive-behavioral intervention targeting minority stress as a driver of greater substance use and poorer mental and physical health. Ten sexual minority men living with HIV who were episodic substance users (>1 episode of illicit drug use or binge drinking in the previous 3 months) began the intervention. Feedback on the intervention was obtained through open-ended interviews analyzed using thematic analysis and Likert scale questionnaires about experiences with the intervention. Therapists tracked identities discussed in relation to minority stress to evaluate feasibility of AWARENESS to address intersectional minority stress. Participants identified they gained cognitive-behavioral skills to cope with intersectional minority stress and described destigmatization and integration of identities. Participants discussed an average of 3.2 identity characteristics in addition to sexual minority status in relation to intervention content. This study lays the groundwork for additional testing of this intervention. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).


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