Among gay and bisexual MSM, those who are living with HIV are 12% less likely to be employed and 9% more likely to experience financial difficulty than their HIV-negative counterparts, a study among the Multicenter AIDS Cohort published in Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes found.
At baseline, 60% of the 1,721 participants were employed, 42% reported an annual income < US$ 10,000, and 48% said they faced financial difficulty. PLWH who were employed had a 32% lower risk of progressing to AIDS than unemployed PLWH, possibly because the least healthy are at greatest risk of unemployment after HIV diagnosis.
While losing a job often means also losing health insurance, PLWH were protected from that effect by an array of assistance programs for low-income people, as evidenced by the greater likelihood of health insurance among PLWH compared to HIV-negative participants.
Study limitations included a complete lack of women, as well as relatively few people who earned more than $10,000 per year. Study authors called for additional research evaluating economic burden by age, race, and educational level. “Our results highlight the need to reduce adverse economic burden as a context for poor HIV outcomes for PLWH,” they concluded.