Adolescent Experiences of Discrimination, Harassment, Connectedness to Community and Comfort With Sexual Orientation Reported by Adult Men Who Have Sex With Men as a Predictor of Adult HIV Status

The association of negative life factors during adolescence and adult HIV status was examined in the current study by using data from a probability-based sample of adult men who have sex with men. A total of 521 MSM reported their experiences of community connectedness, comfort with sexuality, harassment and discrimination due to their sexual orientation at ages 12-18. Serologic testing was performed to determine HIV status.

MSM reported moderate levels of harassment and discrimination and high levels of feeling disconnected from gay communities; they also reported high levels of discomfort with their sexuality at those ages. However, analyses of scores on these factors showed higher experiences of harassment, higher levels of discrimination, and more discomfort at sexuality at those ages were associated with HIV-negative status in adulthood.

"This study suggests that the relationship between negative adolescent experiences among MSM and adult HIV infection may not be straightforward, but may also be dependent upon aspects of the intensity of the negative experiences, the relationship of the victim and the perpetrator(s), the sexual identity of the victim at the time and/or the number of these experiences or the length of time over which they occurred," concluded the researchers, who called for more studies investigating specific multiple stressors in adolescent gay development and their effect on adult health outcomes.