Mentored Scientist Award

Development of novel scales to measure HIV-specific social support for safer conception and male involvement in safer conception approaches for the prevention of HIV

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Social support and male involvement are critical factors in the use of safer conception (SC) methods and services and continued engagement across the peri-partum continuum of care. Yet, to our knowledge, no scales have yet been developed at the individual or couple-level to assess social support for SC uptake or male involvement in SC. We propose to adapt 2 scales: the Social Provisions Scale and the Male Partner Involvement Scale. This work will further the conceptualization of social support and male involvement in SC and will provide valid measures to assess social support and male involvement as a pathway to better HIV prevention and care outcomes. In all aims, we will leverage the infrastructure of the ‘Stronger Together/Siqina Ndawonya’ study (MH123392, MPI Darbes/Stephenson), a behavioral couples-based intervention aimed at improving viral suppression and treatment engagement among concordant HIV-positive and sero-different couples in Vulindlela, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Scale adaptation will begin with a review of key literature on these two topics. We will consult with experts to establish face validity and consult with South African researchers regarding cultural appropriateness and correctness of translation. We will conduct cognitive interviews of the scales with 10 sero-different couples (n=20) in Vulindlela. Following interviews, we will explore the internal reliability and the construct validity of the newly developed scales using exploratory factor analysis and Cronbach’s alpha with survey data from 100 sero-different couples/200 participants in Vulindlela. Study data collection and analysis will be completed within one year. The adapted scales to measure social support for SC uptake and male involvement in SC will be useful for various sub-Saharan African settings and will help with assessing these important aspects of couple dynamics that are critical to SC use, thereby improving health outcomes for HIV-affected couples who desire children.