HIV risk behaviors and experience of racism among young Hispanic men who have sex with men in South Florida

Published: July 22, 2010

HIV risk behaviors and experience of racism among young Hispanic men who have sex with men in South Florida

R.J. Jacobs1, M.I. Fernandez2, G.S. Bowen2

1Nova Southeastern University, Preventive Medicine & Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Ft. Lauderdale, United States, 2Nova Southeastern University, Preventive Medicine & Public Health, Ft. Lauderdale, United States

Background: In the United States, half of the HIV cases among Hispanics are men who have sex with men (MSM). Many Hispanic MSM experience oppression in the form of racism, discrimination, and stereotyping, and these experiences have been associated with unprotected anal sex.
Methods: We collected quantitative data on sexual behaviors and drug use from 105 sexually active YHMSM aged 18-29 years (M=24 years; SD=3.2) recruited from community venues in South Florida. Quantitative data were collected through Audio Computer Assisted Self Interviews (ACASI) offered in English and Spanish. We used the quantitative data to create a sampling frame stratified by age and sexual risk and selected a purposive sample of 10 YHMSM to participate in qualitative in-depth audio taped interviews.
Results: Eighty percent of the participants reported being HIV-negative (the rest either refused to answer or did not know their status). All the participants had at least one anal sex partner in the past 6 months (mean=7; median=3), reported high rates of unprotected anal sex (70%), and multiple sex partners (66%). Fifty-nine percent of the participants who were the receptive partner and 62% who were the insertive partner did not use a condom. Twenty-one percent reported they had used alcohol or recreational drugs before and/or during sex. Thirty-one percent met sex partners via the Internet; 22% met them at a bar/club. Correlation analyses showed more experience of racism was associated with unprotected sex, r =.232, p < .05.
Conclusions: There is strong evidence that a significant proportion of young Hispanic men who have sex with men continue to engage in HIV-risk behaviors. Interventions tailored to the needs of young Hispanic MSM — a heavily impacted subgroup stigmatized by virtue of their sexual orientation and Hispanic ethnic minority status — that address socio-contextual issues such as experience of racism.

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