Project BUILD Explores Body Image Concerns Of HIV-Positive Men

The Fenway Institute has announced Project BUILD, a new research study that will examine how body image and appearance concerns affect the self-care of HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM). The object of this six month research study is to discover how body image concerns and HIV self-care behavior come together and interact. Researchers will primarily focus on self-care behavior in study participants, such as HIV medication adherence and sexual health practices.

Project BUILD will look at the experiences of HIV-positive MSM who are struggling with appearance concerns. Study participants must be between the ages of 18 and 65, and must have been taking HIV meds for at least two months.

The study will utilize a randomized control trial that compares a control group with a talk therapy group. This therapy group receives cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that is specifically tailored to body image concerns. This will help participants gain some of the tools they need to have a more positive body image, as well as manage their HIV status and general health in a more proactive way. Participants will meet with a clinical psychologist for once a week for 12 weeks in a structured and safe environment to help them achieve their target mental and physical health goals.

The study is being facilitated by Dr. Aaron J. Bashill, a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and principle investigator of Project BUILD, and Jonathan Jampel, a researcher at The Fenway Institute.

“Body dissatisfaction is common among gay and bisexual men living with HIV, and is associated with elevated depression, poor sexual health, and lower ART adherence,” said Dr. Bashill. “This is the first known study that aims to improve body image and self-care behaviors among gay and bisexual men living with HIV.”

For more information on Project BUILD, please call Jonathan Jampel at 617.927.6465.

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