Case study: Multisystemic therapy for adolescents who engage in HIV transmission risk behaviors

Elizabeth J. Letourneau, Deborah A. Ellis, Sylvie Naar-King, Phillippe B. Cunningham, Sandra L. Fowler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective To present a case study using multisystemic therapy (MST), an intensive family focused psychotherapy. For the clinical trial from which this case was drawn, MST was adapted to address multiple human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission risk behaviors in HIV-infected youth. Targeted behaviors included medication nonadherence, risky sexual behaviors, and substance use. Method One young woman's transmission risk behaviors are described, followed by a description of the MST procedures used to identify and treat the primary drivers of these risk behaviors. Outcome measures were self-report, urine screens, and blood draws. Results At discharge, the young woman showed significant improvements in medication adherence and related health status (e.g., reduced HIV viral load), healthier sexual behaviors, and reduced substance use. Importantly, neither her boyfriend nor her newborn tested positive for HIV. Conclusions Findings from this case study suggest that MST has the potential to reduce transmission risk behaviors among teens with HIV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-127
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • HIV
  • Multisystemic therapy.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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