Methodology Consultation Success: Dr. Adam Carrico

Approximately 1.6 million US adults used methamphetamine each year from 2015 to 2018, many of whom had co-occurring substance use or mental illness. Higher rates of methamphetamine use were concentrated in non-urban areas, which raises concerns due to limited substance use treatment availability in outside of urban areas. Stimulant use is associated with increased risk of HIV transmission, and lower rates of viral suppression among HIV positive men who have sex with men (MSM) due to lower rates of engagement in HIV care. Successful behavioral health interventions to improve engagement in HIV care and viral suppression have often been limited to urban centers and confined to treatment settings, but mobile health (mHealth) technologies offer the opportunity to extend reach and efficacy of these interventions.


The START Study Team: Dr. Adam Carrico (Left), Dr. Keith Horvath (Center), Dr. Sabina Hirshfield (Right)

Drs. Adam Carrico, Keith Horvath, and Sabina Hirshfield recently received R01 funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to conduct a randomized clinical trial of an mHealth intervention to improve HIV treatment engagement and viral suppression among MSM who use stimulants. Dr. Carrico is a Professor of Public Health Sciences and Psychology and Director of the Division of Prevention Science and Community Health at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. His research largely focuses on the implications of substance use on HIV transmission and disease progression. Dr. Horvath is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and San Diego State University. His primary research interests are the development and testing of mHealth interventions for sexual and gender minorities. Dr. Hirshfield is a Principal Research Scientist at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, where she conducts video- and message-based eHealth interventions with populations at-risk for, or living with, HIV. Her research includes home collection of dried blood spots for lab-based viral load testing. Together, the study team plans to evaluate the efficacy of the Supporting Treatment Adherence for Resilience and Thriving (START) mHealth intervention in improving and maintaining viral load suppression among MSM who use stimulants. The START intervention includes individual sessions and medication self-monitoring.


With input from the CHERISH Consultation Service, the START study team was able to include an economic evaluation for the mHealth intervention in his research plan. CHERISH Methodology Core Co-director Kathryn McCollister provided input for the grant application on how to best capture intervention costs and potential economic benefits of the START intervention. Dr. McCollister will also serve as a co-investigator to lead the economic evaluation for the intervention. Dr. Carrico reported that he was very satisfied with the consultation and would recommend the service to other investigators. “Dr. McCollister’s input strengthened our application and we look forward to collaborating on this important and timely project that will provide valuable information on both the effectiveness and cost of this mHealth intervention,” said Dr. Carrico.