An analysis of data from a six-city study of Black gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM), and published January 31 in the academic journal PLOS ONE shows a correlation between HIV infection and a number of factors including higher rates of unemployment, lower socioeconomic status, and other sexually transmitted infections. The study, HPTN 061, was coordinated by the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) and funded by the National Institutes of Health.
The analysis, led by Dr. Kenneth Mayer of Boston’s Fenway Health found that:
- Newly diagnosed HIV-positive Black MSM were significantly more likely to be unemployed compared to HIV-uninfected Black MSM;
- More than half of the Black MSM participants reported being poor and experiencing depression and internalized homophobia;
- Newly diagnosed Black MSM were more likely to have unprotected receptive anal sex with a male partner in the last six months; and to be diagnosed with syphilis, rectal gonorrhea, and urethral or rectal chlamydia.
Black MSM account for more than 20 percent of new HIV infections in the United States despite being a very small percentage of the overall population. Enhanced understanding of factors associated with undiagnosed infections can help inform programs needed to address this epidemic. Culturally-tailored approaches that address economic disenfranchisement, increase engagement in care, offer routine screening for sexually transmitted infections, provide earlier treatment for HIV-infection and chemoprophylaxis for high-risk uninfected Black MSM, in conjunction with evidence-based prevention interventions to reduce unprotected anal sex, may help decrease further transmission in this heavily impacted community.
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