Denser social networks and greater rates of past trauma may contribute to higher HIV rates among young African-American MSM compared to their white peers, a data analysis published in Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome suggests. Overall HIV prevalence among 1,015 young MSM in Chicago, Illinois, was 16.5%, but among African Americans it was 32%; among Latinos, 12.5%; and among whites, 2%.
"Density" in this study refers to a measurement of the degree to which all possible relationships within a network are, in fact, observed -- i.e., the denser a network, the more sexual relationships that take place within that network. While African Americans reported fewer sexual partners and more frequent HIV testing, their network was denser than that of the other groups, the study found. Furthermore, levels of past trauma, stigma, victimization, and childhood sexual abuse were highest among African Americans.
Results show that HIV prevention efforts among young African American men are having an effect, but further research to develop interventions focused on the social determinants of HIV is needed, study authors concluded.