Gary W Harper

Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, United States

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Publications (156)226.31 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: HIV infection increases the risk of psychological distress among adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV), which, in turn, increases risky behaviours such as medication non-adherence, substance use, and sexual risk-taking. The majority of studies on psychological distress among ALHIV have been conducted in high-income countries; data on the prevalence and correlates of psychological distress among ALHIV in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are scarce, yet over two-thirds of the global population of ALHIV resides in SSA. The purpose of this study was to identify the contextually relevant correlates of psychological distress among Ugandan ALHIV. Utilizing the stress and coping framework, we explored the risk and protective factors for psychological distress in cross-sectional sample of 464 ALHIV (aged 12–19; 53% female) at a large HIV treatment centre in Kampala, Uganda. The stressors associated with psychological distress included daily hassles, major negative life events, HIV-related quality of life, and stigma. Protective factors included psychosocial resources such as religious coping, satisfaction with social support, and general coping style and behaviours. Social support and optimism were significantly associated with psychological distress. Findings underscore the need for mental health services for ALHIV in Uganda and other resource-limited settings.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2016 · Global Public Health
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Women account for 1 in 5 new HIV infections in the US, make up 24% of people living with HIV, and represent a quarter of AIDS diagnoses. Despite the need for continued prevention among young women living with HIV, there is very little in the literature on how best to reduce sexual risk and increase the health and well-being of young women living with HIV. This article explores the primary and secondary outcomes of a randomized controlled pilot trial of an intervention entitled EVOLUTION: Young Women Taking Charge and Growing Stronger. This behavioral intervention aimed to decrease sexual risk and empower young women living with HIV by enhancing young women's knowledge and skills pertaining to HIV risk reduction as well as to the factors that increase women's vulnerability, such as sexual inequality, gender, and power imbalances. Findings from this trial demonstrate that group-based behavioral interventions for young women living with HIV have promise to reduce the total number of sexual partners and reduce unprotected vaginal and anal intercourse. However, more work is needed to understand how best to address the challenges young women face in their day to day lives that impact their sexual risk as well as their overall health and access to care and treatment.
    No preview · Article · May 2016 · AIDS patient care and STDs
  • No preview · Article · Feb 2016
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Psychological distress is common among adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV) worldwide, and has been associated with non-adherence to anti-retroviral therapy (ART), leading to poor virologic suppression, drug resistance, and increased risk for AIDS morbidity and mortality. However, only a few studies have explored the relationship between psychological distress and ART adherence among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. The paper examines the relationship between psychological distress and ART adherence, and effect of psychosocial resources on ART adherence. We conducted a cross-sectional survey of 464 ALHIV (aged 12–19; 53% female) seeking HIV care at a large HIV treatment center in Kampala, Uganda. ALHIV were recruited during routine clinic visits. Three self-reported binary adherence measures were utilized: missed pills in the past three days, non-adherence to the prescribed medical regimen, and self-rated adherence assessed using a visual analog scale. Psychological distress was measured as a continuous variable, and computed as the mean score on a locally developed and validated 25-item symptom checklist for Ugandan ALHIV. Psychosocial resources included spirituality, religiosity, optimism, social support, and coping strategies. After adjusting for respondents’ socio-demographic characteristics and psychosocial resources, a unit increase in psychological distress was associated with increased odds of missing pills in past 3 days (Odds Ratio(OR) = 1.75; Confidence Interval (CI): 1.04–2.95), not following the prescribed regimen (OR = 1.63; CI: 1.08–2.46), and lower self-rated adherence (OR = 1.79; CI: 1.19–2.69). Psychosocial resources were associated with lower odds for non-adherence on all three self-report measures. There is a need to strengthen the psychosocial aspects of adolescent HIV care by developing interventions to identify and prevent psychological distress among Ugandan ALHIV.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · AIDS Care
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Importance Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) diagnoses continue to increase among young men who have sex with men (YMSM). Many YMSM living with HIV engage in sexual risk behaviors, and those who have a detectable viral load can transmit HIV to sex partners. Understanding factors that are related to sexual risk taking among virologically detectable (VL+) YMSM can inform prevention and treatment efforts.Objectives To describe differences between virologically suppressed (VL−) and VL+ YMSM living with HIV and to identify correlates of condomless anal intercourse (CAI) and serodiscordant CAI among VL+ YMSM.Design, Setting, and Participants In this cross-sectional survey conducted from December 1, 2009, through June 30, 2012, we studied 991 HIV-infected YMSM 15 to 26 years of age at 20 adolescent HIV clinics in the United States. Data analysis was conducted December 1, 2013, through July 31, 2015.Main Outcomes and Measures Demographic, behavioral, and psychosocial assessments obtained using audio computer-assisted self-interviews. Viral load information was obtained via blood draw or medical record abstraction.Results Of the 991 participants, 688 (69.4%) were VL+ and 458 (46.2%) reported CAI, with 310 (31.3%) reporting serodiscordant CAI in the past 3 months. The VL+ YMSM were more likely than the VL− YMSM to report CAI (detectable, 266 [54.7%]; suppressed, 91 [44.4%]; P = .01) and serodiscordant CAI (detectable, 187 [34.9%]; suppressed, 57 [25.0%]; P < .01). Multivariable analyses indicated that among VL+ YMSM, those reporting problematic substance use were more likely to report CAI (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.46; 95% CI, 1.02-2.10) and serodiscordant CAI (AOR, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.06-1.99). Black VL+ YMSM were less likely to report CAI (AOR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.44-0.90) or serodiscordant CAI (AOR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.46-0.94) compared with other VL+ YMSM. In addition, VL+ YMSM who disclosed their HIV status to sex partners were more likely to report CAI compared with nondisclosing YMSM (AOR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.01-1.81). Transgender participants were less likely to report CAI than cisgender participants (AOR, 0.35; 95% CI, 0.14-0.85). Last, VL+ YMSM who reported currently being employed were less likely to report serodiscordant CAI than those who were unemployed (AOR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.55-0.99).Conclusions and Relevance Targeted multilevel interventions are needed to reduce HIV transmission risk behaviors among YMSM living with HIV, particularly among those who are VL+.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · JAMA Pediatrics
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Numerous barriers to clinic-based HIV testing exist (e.g., stigmatization) for African American youth. These barriers may be addressed by new technology, specifically HIV self-implemented testing (SIT). We conducted a series of formative phase 3 translation studies (49 face-to-face interviews, 9 focus groups, 1 advisory panel review) among low-income African American youth (15-19 years) and providers of adolescent services in two US cities to identify potential translation difficulties of the OraQuick SIT. Based on content analysis, we found that providers and African American youth viewed SITs positively compared to clinic-based testing. Data suggest that SITs may reduce social stigma and privacy concerns and increase convenience and normalization of HIV testing. Challenges with SIT implementation include difficulties accessing confirmatory testing, coping with adverse outcomes, and instructional materials that may be inappropriate for low socioeconomic status (SES) persons. Study results underscore the need for translation studies to identify specific comprehension and implementation problems African American youth may have with oral SITs.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Translational Behavioral Medicine
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective: To explore associations between intrapersonal and interpersonal factors and both sexual and psychosocial resilient outcomes among young gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) in Western Kenya. Design: Cross-sectional observational study. Methods: Five hundred and eleven GBMSM ages 18-29 were recruited from nine communities in Western Kenya using community-based mobilization strategies. Participants completed an audio computer-assisted self-interview survey in English or Duhluo. We estimated four three-step hierarchical linear regression models to examine associations between predictors (intrapersonal and interpersonal factors) and four resilient outcomes (psychological well-being, self-esteem, condom use, HIV testing). Results: Psychosocial well-being model (modeled conversely as depression/anxiety) was significant (F(13,424) = 106.41, P < 0.001, R = 0.765) with loneliness, lesbian/gay/bisexual (LGB) difficult process, LGB identity superiority, and reactions to trauma as predictors. Self-esteem model was significant (F(12,425) = 6.40, P < 0.001, R = 0.153) with known HIV-seropositivity, perceived social support, internalized homonegativity, and LGB difficult process as predictors. Condom use model was significant (F(13,379) = 4.30, P < 0.001, R = 0.128) with perceived social support, self-esteem, and reactions to trauma as predictors. HIV testing model was significant (F(12,377) = 4.75, P < 0.001, R = 0.131) with loneliness, LGB identity uncertainty, LGB difficult process, and LGB identity superiority as predictors. Conclusion: This study demonstrates the variety of ways in which intrapersonal and interpersonal factors are associated with HIV-related resilient outcomes for young GBMSM in Western Kenya. HIV prevention programs for this population should be developed in collaboration with GBMSM and include intervention components that promote resilience.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · AIDS (London, England)
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Reducing HIV incidence among adolescents represents an urgent global priority. Structural change approaches to HIV prevention may reduce youth risk by addressing the economic, social, cultural, and political factors that elevate it. We assessed whether achievement of structural changes made by eight Connect-to-Protect (C2P) coalitions were associated with improvements in youth's views of their community over the first 4 years of coalitions' mobilization. We recruited annual cross-sectional samples of targeted youth from each C2P community. We sampled youth in neighborhood venues. We interviewed a total of 2461 youth over 4 years. Males (66 %) and youth of color comprised the majority (52 % Hispanic/Latinos; 41 % African Americans) of those interviewed. By year 4, youth reported greater satisfaction with their community as a youth-supportive setting. They reported their needs were better met by available community resources compared with year 1. However, these findings were moderated by risk population such that those from communities where C2P focused on young men who have sex with men (YMSM) reported no changes over time whereas those from communities focused on other at-risk youth reported significant improvements over time in satisfaction and resource needs being met. Internalized HIV stigma increased over time among those from communities serving other at-risk youth and was unchanged among those from YMSM communities. The very different results we observe over time between communities focused on YMSM versus other at-risk youth may suggest it is unreasonable to assume identical chains of structural causality across youth populations who have such different historical relationships to HIV and who encounter very different kinds of entrenched discrimination within their communities.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Journal of Youth and Adolescence
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    Dataset: SEM NIH
    Full-text · Dataset · Oct 2015
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    Douglas Bruce · Gary W. Harper · Jose A. Bauermeister
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introduction: Minority stress processes have been shown to have significant associations with negative mental health outcomes among sexual minority populations. Given that adversity may be experienced growing up as a sexual minority in heteronormative, if not heterosexist, environments, our research on resilience among sexual minority male youth proposes that positive identity development may buffer the effects of a range of minority stress processes. Methods: An ethnically diverse sample of 200 sexual minority males ages 16-24 (mean age, 20.9 years) was recruited using mixed recruitment methods. We developed and tested two new measures: concealment stress during adolescence and sexual minority-related positive identity development. We then tested a path model that assessed the effects of minority stressors, positive identity development, and social support on major depressive symptoms. Results: Experience of stigma was associated with internalized homophobia (β=.138, p<.05) and major depressive symptoms (β=1.076, OR=2.933, p<.001), and internalized homophobia partially mediated experience's effects on major depression (β=.773, OR=2.167, p<.001). Concealment stress was associated with positive identity development (β=.155, p<.05) and internalized homophobia (β=.418, p<.001), and positive identity development partially mediated concealment stress's effects on internalized homophobia (β=-.527, p<.001). Concealment stress demonstrated a direct effect on major depression (β=1.400, OR=4.056, p<.001), and indirect paths to social support through positive identity development. Conclusions: With these results, we offer an exploratory model that empirically identifies significant paths among minority stress dimensions, positive identity development, and major depressive symptoms. This study helps further our understanding of minority stress, identity development, and resources of resilience among sexual minority male youth.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015
  • Ryan M Wade · Gary W Harper
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Black young gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (YGBMSM) are at high risk for negative health outcomes, though this population is underrepresented in the health literature. An extensive literature review and content analysis of health-related peer-reviewed articles (1988-2013) was conducted that targeted Black YGBMSM, examining five content areas: sexual health, health care, substance use, psychosocial functioning, and sociostructural factors. A coding sheet was created to collect information on all content areas and related subtopics and computed descriptive statistics. Out of 54 articles, most were published after 2004 (N = 49; 90.7%) and addressed some aspect of sexual health (N = 50; 92.6%). Few articles included content on psychosocial functioning, including bullying/harassment, suicide, and racial/ethnic identity. Data on health care delivery/receipt and health insurance were underrepresented; tobacco use and substance abuse were seldom addressed. Important sociostructural factors, including sexual networks and race-based discrimination, were poorly represented. Last, there was a noteworthy deficit of qualitative studies and research exploring intersectional identity and health. This review concludes that studies on Black YGBMSM health places sex at the forefront to the neglect of other critical health domains. More research is needed on the diverse health issues of a vulnerable and underexamined population.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · American journal of men's health
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Young men who have sex with men (YMSM) are at increased risk for HIV and STI infection. While encouraging HIV and STI testing among YMSM remains a public health priority, we know little about the cultural competency of providers offering HIV/STI tests to YMSM in public clinics. As part of a larger intervention study, we employed a mystery shopper methodology to evaluate the LGBT cultural competency and quality of services offered in HIV and STI testing sites in Southeast Michigan (n = 43).We trained and deployed mystery shoppers (n = 5) to evaluate the HIV and STI testing sites by undergoing routine HIV/STI testing. Two shoppers visited each site, recording their experiences using a checklist that assessed 13 domains, including the clinic's structural characteristics and interactions with testing providers. We used the site scores to examine the checklist's psychometric properties and tested whether site evaluations differed between sites only offering HIV testing (n = 14) versus those offering comprehensive HIV/STI testing (n = 29). On average, site scores were positive across domains. In bivariate comparisons by type of testing site, HIV testing sites were more likely than comprehensive HIV/STI testing clinics to ascertain experiences of intimate partner violence, offer action steps to achieve safer sex goals, and provide safer sex education. The developed checklist may be used as a quality assurance indicator to measure HIV/STI testing sites' performance when working with YMSM. Our findings also underscore the need to bolster providers' provision of safer sex education and behavioral counseling within comprehensive HIV/STI testing sites.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · AIDS and Behavior
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Social support helps youth manage psychosocial stress. Though many studies have investigated the role of social support in helping youth in developed countries cope with their HIV status, such research is lacking among youth living in sub-Saharan African countries, including Kenya. The importance of research on youth living with HIV in Kenya is enhanced given young people's unique developmental stages and the HIV prevalence rate of 8.8% among Kenyans aged 25 to 29 years. To gain further insight, qualitative focus group interviews were conducted with 53 youth aged 18 to 27 years who lived in the informal urban settlement of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya. A phenomenological approach was used to analyse the data from which four major types of social support were identified: 1) emotional; 2) informational; 3) appraisal; and 4) instrumental. Within each of these overarching themes more specific sub-themes were identified. The youth also reported receiving social support from eight main sources: 1) family; 2) friends; 3) clinicians and clinical services; 4) counsellors; 5) support groups; 6) religious sources; 7) partners; and 8) other. These findings suggest that various forms of social support, provided by diverse sources, which may fall outside of those commonly involved in interventions, can help youth living with HIV cope with their diagnosis and promote healthy lifestyles. Future research should investigate the roles and interactions of different types and sources of support, specifically as they relate to interventions aiming to ameliorate the experiences of youth newly diagnosed with HIV.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · African Journal of AIDS Research
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The purpose of the present study was to understand the extent to which urban African-American youth access information via the Internet for a variety of sexual health topics and to identify the conditions under which they find sexual health information. African-American heterosexual youth (N = 81; 15–17 years) residing in low-income neighborhoods completed semi-structured interviews. Data on access to and use of the Internet for sexual health information were extracted, coded, and charted. Access to the Internet was widespread. Nearly half of the respondents had used the Internet for sexual health information; a variety of topics were covered (e.g., HIV/STIs; condoms; communication; relationships). Notably, many youth accessed information in the context of a sex education assignment or through advertisements on social network sites (SNSs). Universal use of the Internet has not led to widespread use of digital media for sexual health information. The Internet continues to be an underutilized resource, but our findings suggest several pathways through which youth may be reached with sexual health information online. We identify several testable hypotheses, which can be explored in larger quantitative studies and which will enhance our ability to develop effective strategies to reach youth with legitimate sexual health information online.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · Sexuality Research and Social Policy: Journal of NSRC
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The fear of negative reactions from friends and family members affects many human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive adolescents' decisions regarding disclosure of their HIV status. The complex relationships and interplay among social support, fear of stigma, and disclosure of HIV status need to be better understood among youth living with HIV (YLHIV). Social support from friends and family members and HIV status disclosure were examined among 402 youth, aged 12-24 years, living with HIV. In separate analyses, (1) HIV-positive youth who reported more than one close friend and (2) HIV-positive youth who reported that friends and family members continued to socialize with them after disclosure of their HIV diagnosis, had higher levels of perceived social support overall (both p < .05). Furthermore, perceived social support did not differ significantly between those participants for whom no family member knew their HIV status and those for whom at least one family member knew their status (p = .13). Race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, education level, and current living situation were not associated with family's knowledge of the participants' HIV infection status (p > .07). This investigation adds important information concerning YLHIV, whose early disclosure experiences may influence their resilience and future coping mechanisms regarding experienced stigma, and thus influence the length of time they conceal their HIV status, their decision to disclose their status, and potentially their decisions regarding treatment. Interventions and support systems to assist YLHIV with disclosure, as well as medical care, may improve their overall quality of life. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    No preview · Article · May 2015 · Journal of Adolescent Health
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We examined the potential for increasing the reach of HIV testing to African American youths through the dissemination of oral-HIV testing. From 2012 through 2013 we examined the perceptions of alternatives to pharmacy dissemination of SITs in African American youths (5 focus groups) and service providers (4 focus groups), and conducted an ethnographic study of pharmacies (n = 10). Participants perceived significant advantages to delivering SITs through community health and services for adolescents (e.g., increased confidentiality, reduced stigma) over pharmacy dissemination. Given proper attention to fit, SIT dissemination could be facilitated through distribution by health and social service sites, and by improving elements of pharmacy dissemination. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print April 23, 2015: e1-e4. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302531).
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · American Journal of Public Health
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article presents a description and evaluation of the Home Free Program, a multi-component trauma-sensitive family reunification intervention based in a youth empowerment framework, which provides family-based crisis intervention and free transportation home for runaway youth. A mixed-methods evaluation was conducted with 107 parents/guardians whose children (ages 14–20) had run away from home. Qualitative data revealed changes in family interactional patterns related to physical reunification, clearer expectations, increased communication, improved communication, and increased awareness of differing perspectives. Quantitative data revealed decreases in family conflict, increases in family expressiveness, improvements in family dynamics, and improvements in youths' health outcomes.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Child & Youth Services
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sexually explicit material (SEM) (including Internet, video, and print) may play a key role in the lives of Black same-sex sexually active youth by providing the only information to learn about sexual development. There is limited school- and/or family-based sex education to serve as models for sexual behaviors for Black youth. We describe the role SEM plays in the sexual development of a sample of Black same-sex attracted (SSA) young adolescent males ages 15-19. Adolescents recruited from clinics, social networking sites, and through snowball sampling were invited to participate in a 90-min, semi-structured qualitative interview. Most participants described using SEM prior to their first same-sex sexual experience. Participants described using SEM primarily for sexual development, including learning about sexual organs and function, the mechanics of same-gender sex, and to negotiate one's sexual identity. Secondary functions were to determine readiness for sex; to learn about sexual performance, including understanding sexual roles and responsibilities (e.g., "top" or "bottom"); to introduce sexual performance scripts; and to develop models for how sex should feel (e.g., pleasure and pain). Youth also described engaging in sexual behaviors (including condom non-use and/or swallowing ejaculate) that were modeled on SEM. Comprehensive sexuality education programs should be designed to address the unmet needs of young, Black SSA men, with explicit focus on sexual roles and behaviors that may be inaccurately portrayed and/or involve sexual risk-taking (such as unprotected anal intercourse and swallowing ejaculate) in SEM. This work also calls for development of Internet-based HIV/STI prevention strategies targeting young Black SSA men who may be accessing SEM.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Archives of Sexual Behavior
  • No preview · Article · Feb 2015 · Journal of Adolescent Health
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Young black gay/bisexual and other men who have sex with men (YB-GBMSM) living with HIV are at risk for poor engagement in HIV care. Relatively little is known about factors that impact engagement outcomes at various stages along the HIV care continuum in this specific population. The purpose of this analysis was to examine associations between various psychosocial factors and likelihood of engagement at each stage of the care continuum, among a geographically diverse sample of 132 YB-GBMSM living with HIV. Negative self-image, a component of HIV stigma, had an inverse association with early care seeking after HIV diagnosis (OR=1.05; 95% CI 1.01-1.10). Negative self-image was also inversely associated with adherence to medical appointments (OR=0.95; 95% CI 0.91-0.99), while employment (OR=0.30; 95% CI 0.12-0.75) and ethnic identity affirmation (OR=0.28; 95% CI 0.12-0.68) were both positively associated with appointment adherence. HIV-positive identity salience was associated with a higher likelihood of being on antiretroviral therapy (OR=1.06; 95% CI 1.02, 1.09). These findings highlight the importance of processes related to identity development, as both barriers and facilitators of engagement in care for HIV-positive YB-GBMSM.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · AIDS PATIENT CARE and STDs