About Engage

Focusing on gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM), the Engage Cohort Study investigates trends in the use of ARV-based HIV prevention and the occurrence of HIV and other sexually transmitted and bloodborne infections. Originally planned to take place over a shorter time period, this cohort was extended until 2023 and will follow participants from Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. The study aims to 1) measure trends in and determinants of: the use of antiretroviral (ARV)-based HIV prevention, psychosocial-behavioural factors (e.g., experiences of discrimination, substance use, access to prevention and care services, etc.), condom-use, bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and HIV and 2) examine the relationships between ARV-based HIV prevention and various sexual health outcomes (e.g., occurrence of STIs). Also, because some groups of gbMSM (e.g., transmen) may have unique experiences of ARV-based HIV prevention, interviews will be done in each city to better understand their realities.

The collected data will also be compared between cities (Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal), allowing researchers to evaluate current HIV and STI prevention strategies and to identify gaps in care and the shortcomings of current programming.

Engage can be broken down into four main components:

  1. A multi-site cross-sectional study in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal: The study aims to measure prevalent and recent infections of HIV and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) among gbMSM populations of these major Canadian cities. This will allow researchers to assess variations across regions and conduct detailed analyses linking prevention efforts to health outcomes.
  2. Three novel and improved HIV prevention interventions: Based on the multisite study and working with community-based organizations, we will develop and conduct rigorous pilot evaluations of HIV prevention interventions.
  3. Research capacity building initiatives: We aim to increase HIV- and sexual health-related research capacity for gbMSM in Canada by offering studentship and training opportunities to academic researchers and community investigators.
  4. Community Engagement: Each study city (Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal) will have an actively involved community engagement committee whose function is to galvanize interest and participation in research among communities of gbMSM.

Engage is funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN), and the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR).