February 14, 2014
This article was reported by NAM aidsmap.
NAM aidsmap reported on a study that links HIV risk among American black men who have sex with men (MSM) with demographic, behavioral, economic, and biological factors. The research, part of the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN 061, also known as the "Brothers" study), recruited 1,553 black men from six U.S. cities. The men in the study had a previous HIV diagnosis, were recently diagnosed, or were HIV-negative. Black MSM have the highest HIV prevalence rate of any population in the United States.
The research team wanted to investigate what social or economic factors could be linked to the HIV incidence rate among black MSM. The study, which took place from July 2009 to October 2010, recruited men, through the community or through social networks, who self-identified as black men who had unprotected anal sex with at least one man in the previous six months. Researchers found that participants recently diagnosed with HIV were more likely than the HIV-negative men to be unemployed, have an STD, and report engaging in unprotected receptive anal sex; they were less likely to have a college education.
"This study enhances black MSM's disproportionate risk of HIV, by finding that those who were unemployed and those with untreated [sexually transmitted infections] were more likely to have undiagnosed HIV infection, raising the possibility that economically related nonengagement with the healthcare system may enhance the impact of biological amplifiers of HIV transmission," comment the authors.
Researchers screened participants for HIV upon entrance into the study and collected information regarding their age, employment status, income, sexual behavior, and drug use. Almost half of participants, whether they were HIV-positive or -negative, had medium to high levels of internalized homophobia. "Since unprotected receptive anal intercourse was the major mode of HIV transmission among the men, studies on how best to promote sexual health among black MSM are needed," conclude the authors.
The full report "Concomitant Socioeconomic, Behavioral, and Biological Factors Associated with the Disproportionate HIV Infection Burden Among Black Men Who Have Sex With Men in 6 U.S. Cities," was published in PLOS ONE (2014; doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087298).