Stuck in the middle: Longitudinal HIV-related health disparities among men who have sex with men and women
Men who have sex with men and women (MSMW) have been shown in cross-sectional studies to suffer HIV-related health disparities above and beyond those found among men who have sex with men only (MSMO). We conducted a secondary data analysis over a 7-year time frame of participants in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), a longstanding prospective cohort study, to examine whether MSMW had persistently higher rates of depression symptoms, polydrug use, and (among HIV positive MSM) HIV viral load levels compared with MSMO.
Men were behaviorally defined as bisexual if they reported sexual activity with at least one male and one female partner between study waves 38-50. We used generalized mixed modeling with repeated measures to test differences in CES-D score, polydrug use, and viral load between sexually active MSMO (n=111) and MSMW (n=1514), adjusting for age, income, and race/ethnicity, and recent seroconversion.
MSMW were significantly more likely than MSMO to have higher CES-D scores, polydrug use, and viral load levels (all p-values <.01). Outcome trajectories did not differ significantly over time between these groups. Black and Hispanic HIV positive MSMW had higher viral load levels relative to White HIV positive MSMW (p-values<.01).
Compared with MSMO, MSMW in the MACS suffer from profound and persistent HIV-related health disparities across biological, behavioral, and psychosocial domains. Further qualitative and quantitative research contextualizing the pathways underlying these disparities is recommended for intervention development targeting MSMW at risk for HIV acquisition and transmission.
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