About The Study

This study will assess the use of the SMART (Self-compassion, Mindful Acceptance & Resilience Transformation) intervention among Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) gay, bisexual, and trans youth. As a pilot trial, CTNPT 049 aims to assess the feasibility of the intervention and help plan a larger trial to confirm its effectiveness.


The MENA region has the second fastest growing rate of HIV infections in the world. In Canada, MENA immigrants are expected to triple in the next 25 years. After immigration, this group may face cultural barriers, unemployment, racism, and limited social support that increases vulnerability to HIV. This is particularly pronounced in LGBTQ+ youth, who can experience additional circumstances that increase HIV vulnerability, like homophobia, strained relationships with family and within the community, and lack of access to health care. Responding to these needs, SMART is an evidence-based intervention that aims to reduce intersecting stigmas, promote collective resilience, and improve HIV literacy among participants. This 8-week group intervention aims to promote sustainable behaviour change and resilience to prevent HIV transmission.

Study Approach

The SMART intervention will be delivered virtually (via Zoom) by MENA or other racialized peer facilitators. Participants will attend this group intervention for two hours per week over eight weeks. With input from a gay, bisexual, and trans MENA youth advisory group, the intervention will incorporate racial, sexual, and gender affirming approaches, as well as cultural values relevant to MENA communities. The study will include 40 participants, who will be randomized to either the intervention group or the control group. The control group will be “waitlisted,” where they will receive the intervention once the other group is finished. Participants will complete online surveys at baseline, immediately following the intervention, and 3 months after the intervention. A focus group will also be conducted with all participants 3 months after the intervention. Data analysis will focus on whether the SMART intervention was feasible and acceptable to participants, and whether it changed HIV-related behaviours, like condom use, PrEP use, and engagement in risky sexual contexts. Researchers will also look at how the intervention affected mental health, self-compassion, resilience, mindfulness, and HIV literacy.

Eligibility Requirements


  • 21–29 years AND gay, cis bisexual, or trans youth;
  • self-identified MENA (Arab and West Asian);
  • minimal or no prior experience with mindfulness-based interventions;
  • able to speak and read English
  • have internet access; and
  • able to take part in the 8-week intervention

Not Allowed

  • Current enrollment in mental health intervention;
  • Enrollment in mental health treatment within the past year; or
  • Self-reported HIV-positive status

Additional Information

If you would like to take part in this study or want more information, please contact the principal investigator (email: roula.hawa@uwo.ca).

Read More

Health sciences prof Roula Hawa runs mindfulness study to reduce HIV risks (Western University News)

Principal Investigator

Here’s who is leading this study.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Email ctninfo@hivnet.ubc.ca.

Participating Sites

Here’s where this study is being conducted.

St. Michael’s Hospital, Unity Health

Toronto, ON

Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi
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