This study sought to identify the magnitude of HIV risk in a diverse sample of Men who use the Internet to seek Sex with Men (MISM), and test if specific sub-populations are at sufficiently increased risk to warrant tailored interventions. A sample of 2,716 American MISM, stratified by race/ethnicity, completed an Internet survey of online and offline sex seeking behavior during the last 3 months. Across most demographics, a minority of MISM reported unprotected anal intercourse with male partners (UAIMP). Across all demographics, risk of UAIMP substantially increased with partners met online. Other predictors of increased online partner risk include being 30–39 years old, having children, not living in the Northeast, and low income. HIV-positive men and African Americans reported increased online and offline partner risk. To address higher risk of UAIMP, online HIV interventions should prioritize the needs of MISM, especially HIV-positive men, with content focused on online-mediated liaisons.
High-risk sex; Unprotected sex; Homosexuality; Internet; Demographic factors; HIV seropositivity
The association between HIV treatment optimism—beliefs about susceptibility to transmit HIV, motivation to use condoms, and severity of HIV—and sexual risk behavior was examined among HIV-positive African American men who have sex with men (MSM). Participants were 174 men recruited in four major metropolitan areas of the United States to participate in a weekend HIV risk reduction intervention. Baseline results revealed that beliefs in less susceptibility to transmit HIV and less motivation to use condoms were significantly associated with more unprotected anal intercourse among serodiscordant casual partners. Less motivation to use condoms also predicted more unprotected insertive and receptive anal sex and was more important than susceptibility beliefs in predicting these behaviors. Suggestions are offered of ways to better inform HIV-positive African American MSM about their misperceptions about HIV treatment and how their level of optimism about HIV treatment may diminish or encourage condom use.
African American; HIV treatment optimism; condom use
To inform health information targeting, we used cross-sectional data from 2577 HIV-negative MSM to identify groups of men who access similar sources. Offline, more men reported talking to a physician about HIV than about having sex with men; fewer than half attended a safer sex workshop. Online, men sought information primarily through Internet search engines, GLBT websites, or health websites. A latent class analysis identified four groups of health seekers: minimal health seekers, those who accessed online sources only, those who sought information mostly from health professionals, and those who sought information from diverse sources. Minimal health seekers, 9% of the sample, were the group of greatest concern. They engaged in unprotected anal sex with multiple partners but infrequently testing for HIV or sought sexual health information. By encouraging health seeking from diverse sources, opportunities exist to increase men’s knowledge of HIV/STI prevention and, when necessary, access to medical care.
HIV prevention; health information seeking; gay men; Internet; latent class analysis
Few behavioral interventions have been conducted to reduce high-risk sexual behavior among HIV-positive Men who have Sex with Men (HIV+MSM). Hence, we lack well-proven interventions for this population.
Positive Connections is a randomized controlled trial (n=675 HIV+MSM) comparing the effects of two sexual health seminars – for HIV+MSM and all MSM – with a contrast prevention video arm. Baseline, 6-, 12- and 18-month follow-up surveys assessed important psychosexual variables and frequency of serodiscordant unprotected anal intercourse (SDUAI).
At post-test, intentions to avoid transmission were significantly higher in the sexual health arms. However, SDUAI frequency decreased equally across all arms, from 15.0 at baseline to 11.5 at 18 months. HIV+MSM engaging in SDUAI at baseline were more likely to leave the study.
Tailoring interventions to HIV+MSM does not appear to increase the effectiveness of HIV prevention. A sexual health approach appears no more effective than video-based HIV prevention.
HIV+MSM; MSM; HIV prevention; behavioral interventions; unsafe sex; prevention for positives
Internalized homonegativity encompasses negative attitudes toward one’s own sexual orientation, and is associated with negative mental and physical health outcomes. The Reactions to Homosexuality scale (Ross & Rosser, 1996), an instrument used to measure internalized homonegativity, has been criticized for including content irrelevant to the construct of internalized homonegativity. We revised the scale using exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, and identified a seven-item, three-factor reduced version that demonstrated measurement invariance across racial/ethnic categorizations and between English and Spanish versions. We also investigated criterion validity by estimating correlations with hypothesized outcomes associated with outness, relationship status, sexual orientation, and gay community affiliation. The evidence of measurement invariance suggests that this scale is appropriate for pluralistic treatment or study groups.
internalized homonegativity; invariance; multi-group modeling; gay men
To determine frequencies of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and its demographic and mental health correlates among HIV-positive men who have sex with men (HIV+ MSM).
Cross-sectional analysis of baseline data collected among 593 HIV+ MSM enrolled in the Positive Connections intervention. Data included frequencies of CSA, demographics, and the number of total sex and anal sex contacts contextualized by partners' HIV infection status and condom use.
Of participants, 47% reported CSA, with 32% reporting CSA occurring ‘often’ or ‘sometimes.’ Men reporting CSA were more likely to be Latino (OR: 2.6) or African-American (OR: 1.8) versus white study participants (p=.0007). CSA reported ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ was associated with increased total sexual contacts (rate ratio: 1.3, for each; p < 0.0001) and unsafe anal intercourse contacts (rate ratio: 1.5 and 2.0, respectively; p < 0.0001) compared with men not reporting CSA.
History of CSA is highly prevalent among HIV+ MSM engaging in risk behavior, and appears more common among men of color. Findings suggest that HIV+ MSM reporting CSA are at significantly increased risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV or STI due to increased contact rates versus men without CSA histories.
We studied internalized homonegativity (IH) in 675 HIV-positive MSM from six epicenters across the US who attended an HIV prevention workshop. Participants included 300 African American and over 150 Hispanic White and White Non-Hispanic men. Higher IH was significantly associated with African American race. Compulsive sexual behavior, openness as MSM, sexual comfort, depression, education level, and importance of religion also were associated with IH, and independently predicted a third of this outcome's variance. For those with higher IH, two significant paths led to unsafe sexual behavior. First, to serodiscordant unprotected anal intercourse (SDUAI) through being less “out” – thus disclosing serostatus to secondary partners less frequently. Second, to lower condom self-efficacy and SDUAI through lower sexual comfort. These data provide information on the demographic, sexual and mental health variables associated with IH. They offer an indication of the paths through which IH is associated with serodiscordant risk behavior in HIV-positive MSM.
homonegativity; homophobia; men who have sex with men; HIV; sexual risk
This study sought to identify how urban gay communities are undergoing structural change, reasons for that change, and implications for HIV prevention planning. Key informants (N=29) at the AIDS Impact Conference from 17 cities in 14 countries completed surveys and participated in a facilitated structured dialog about how gay communities are changing. In all cities, the virtual gay community was identified as now larger than the offline physical community. Most cities identified that while the gay population in their cities appeared stable or growing, the gay community appeared in decline. Measures included greater integration of heterosexuals into historically gay-identified neighborhoods and movement of gay persons into suburbs, decreased number of gay bars and clubs, less attendance at gay events, less volunteerism in gay or AIDS organizations and overall identification and visibility as a gay community. Participants attributed structural change to multiple factors including gay neighborhood gentrification, achievement of civil rights, less discrimination, a vibrant virtual community and changes in drug use. Consistent with social assimilation, across cities, gay infrastructure, visibility and community identification appears to be decreasing. HIV prevention planning, interventions, treatment services, and policies need to be re-conceptualized for MSM in post-gay communities. Four recommendations for future HIV prevention and research are detailed.
Structural Interventions; Gay Community Change; HIV Risk; Resurgent HIV Epidemic; Unsafe Sex
Men who have sex with men (MSM), especially MSM of color, are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS compared to heterosexuals and Caucasians. Nonetheless, fewer sexual and ethnic minorities participate in prevention interventions for people with HIV. We consider recruitment for Positive Connections, a randomized controlled trial comparing unsafe sex prevention interventions primarily for HIV-positive (HIV+) MSM in six US epicenters. One community-based organization (CBO) in each city recruited adult MSM, particularly men of color and HIV+. Recruitment methods included on-line and print advertising, outreach events, health professionals, and social networks. Data on demographics, HIV status, and recruitment method were collected at registration. We tested for differences in registration proportions and attendance rates by recruitment strategy, stratified on race/ethnicity and serostatus. Of the 1,119 registrants, 889 attended the intervention. The sample comprised 41% African American, 18% Latino/Hispanic, and 77% HIV+. Friend referral was reported by the greatest proportion of registrants, particularly among African American (33%) and HIV+ men (25%). Print advertising yielded the largest proportions of non-Hispanic white (27%) and HIV-negative registrants (25%). Registrants recruited on-line were the least likely to attend (45% versus 69% average); this effect was strongest among Latino/Hispanic (27% attendance) and non-Hispanic white men (36%). Retention during the follow-up period did not differ by serostatus, race/ ethnicity, or recruitment method. Differential attendance and retention according to recruitment strategy, serostatus, and racial/ethnic group can inform planning for intervention sample size goals.
Recruitment; Men who have sex with men (MSM); HIV-positive; Minorities