Friday, November 18, 2011

Black and Latino MSM Identity and HIV Risk

via Poz, by Trenton Straube

New research uncovers mistaken assumptions fueling HIV rates among black and Latino men who have sex with men (MSM).

The belief that having sex with someone of your own race lowers your risk of contracting HIV is a misperception that needs to be addressed among black and Latino men who have sex with men (MSM).

What’s more, health care workers are missing opportunities to test this population for HIV—even when the men are engaged in care and disclose their sexuality to their doctors.

These are just two findings of research looking at black and Latino MSM who are HIV positive but unaware of their status. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 53 percent of new HIV cases in the United States are among MSM and that 54 percent of these MSM are black and Latino.

In addition, HIV-positive black and Latino MSM are less likely than their white counterparts to know their status—which is one factor that amplifies HIV rates among these populations.

To explore these dynamics, researchers led by Gregorio A. Millett, MPH, the CDC/HHS Liaison to the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), analyzed data from 1,208 MSM (597 black and 611 Latino) who participated in studies in Los Angeles, New York City and Philadelphia.

Eleven percent of them (18 percent black, 5 percent Latino) turned out to be HIV positive but unaware of their status (referred to as “HIV-positive unaware”).

Researchers found that certain variables were more common among the MSM in this group.

For example:

Black HIV-positive unaware MSM were associated with:

•Gay identity
•Earning a moderately higher income
•Having health insurance
•Disclosing sexuality to current health care provider
•Fewer than three lifetime HIV tests
•High perceived risk of testing HIV positive
•Belief that sex with other black men reduces HIV risk

Latino HIV-positive unaware MSM were associated with:

•Nongay identity
•High perceived risk of currently being HIV positive
•Belief that sex with other Latino men reduces HIV risk

POZ spoke with Millett, who arrived at ONAP via the CDC, about the implications of these findings, which were printed in the September Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes in an article titled “Mistaken Assumptions and Missed Opportunities: Correlates of Undiagnosed HIV Infection Among Black and Latino Men Who Have Sex With Men.”

We also asked Millett how his team in DC might use the data as they implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

Read the rest

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