for males ages 16-29 (full criteria)
study started
estimated completion
William Cunningham (ucla)



HIV prevalence among incarcerated youth living with HIV (YLWH) is three times that of the general population and one in seven of all HIV+ persons experience incarceration each year. Furthermore, only an estimated 6% of HIV+ youth achieve HIV viral load suppression, due to poor retention and adherence to anti-retroviral therapy (ART). Existing linkage and retention services are insufficient to meet the acute needs of criminal justice-involved (CJI) HIV+ youth, particularly in the high-need period following release from incarceration. The LINK2 study will develop and implement a youth service navigation (YSN) intervention to improve linkage and retention among CJI YLWH and analyze results to address existing gaps in the literature. The investigators will enroll 240 CJI YLWH, aged 16-29 (+364 days), incarcerated in Los Angeles and Chicago jails and through community clinics serving recently released CJI YLWH. Participants will be randomized to the YSN intervention (n=120) vs. a usual-care control group (n=120). The youth services navigators (YSNs) will assist with addressing immediate unmet needs such as housing, transportation, and food prior to clinical care and ongoing; will guide intervention participants to a range of community services to support progress along the continuum of HIV care; and will provide direct ART adherence support. The proposed study has two Primary Specific Aims: 1. Adapt an existing peer navigation intervention for adults to create a Youth Service Navigation (YSN) intervention sensitive to sexual and gender minority (SGM) culture that guides youth to needed services along the continuum of HIV care. This intervention combines medical, substance use and mental health care with comprehensive reentry support for CJI YLWH, aged 16-29 (+364 days) upon release from large county jails and juvenile detention systems; 2. Using a two-group RCT design, the study will test the effectiveness of the new YSN, youth SGM-sensitive intervention among CJI YLWH aged 16-29 (+364 days), compared to controls offered standard of care. The study team will evaluate the YSN Intervention's effect on post-incarceration linkage, retention, adherence, and viral suppression, as well as on substance use disorders, mental health, services utilization, and met needs. Secondary Aims are to assess the intervention's effects on recidivism, costs and potential cost-offset/effectiveness.

Official Title

Youth Services Navigation Intervention for HIV+ Adolescents and Young Adults Being Released From Incarceration: A Randomized Control Trial


HIV/AIDS Youth, Criminal justice Sexual/gender minorities Navigation LINK2 Youth Services Navigation Intervention


For males ages 16-29


  1. Diagnosed HIV+;
  2. ages 18-29 and 364 days;
  3. non-cis woman;
  4. English language fluency;
  5. anticipated sentence of no more than 12 months;
  6. Residing in LA County or Cook County upon release


  1. Diagnosed HIV+;
  2. ages 16-29 and 364 days;
  3. non-cis woman;
  4. English language fluency;
  5. Incarceration history within the last 90 days of enrollment;
  6. Residing in LA County or Cook County

Exclusion Criteria:

  1. Inability to give informed consent; 2. Parole hold or transfer to prison

Lead Scientist

  • William Cunningham (ucla)
    Professor, General Internal Medicine. Authored (or co-authored) 99 research publications


not yet accepting patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, Los Angeles
Study Type
Last Updated