Young Black men are under-represented in sexual health services and research, a condition likely magnified during COVID-19 shutdowns due to disruption of STI screening and treatment services. We examined the effect of incentivized peer referral (IPR) increasing peer referral among young Black men in a community-based chlamydia screening program.
Young Black men in New Orleans, LA, age 15–26 years enrolled in a chlamydia screening program between 3/2018 and 5/2021 were included. Enrollees were provided with recruitment materials to distribute to peers. Starting July 28, 2020, enrollees were also offered a $5 incentive for each peer enrolled. Enrollment was compared before and after the incentivize peer referral program (IPR) was implemented using multiple time series analysis (MTSA).
The percentage of men referred by a peer was higher during IPR compared to pre-IPR (45.7% vs. 19.7%, p < 0.001). After the COVID-19 shutdown was lifted, there were 2.007 more recruitments per week (p = 0.044, 95% CI (0.0515, 3.964)) for IPR, compared to pre-IPR. Overall, there was a trending increase in recruitments in the IPR era relative to the pre-IPR era (0.0174 recruitments/week, p = 0.285, 95% CI (− 0.0146, 0.0493)) with less recruitment decay during IPR compared to pre-IPR.
IPR may be an effective means of engaging young Black men in community-based STI research and prevention programs, particularly when clinic access is limited.
Clinical Trials Registry Site and Number
Clinicaltrials.gov identifier NCT03098329.