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Examining inequities in rates of undiagnosed HIV and rectal STIs in a large nationwide cohort study of sexual minority men

H Jonathon Rendina, Ali Talan, K Marie Sizemore, Nicola F Tavella, Brian Salfas, Ore Shalhav, Drew Westmoreland, Brian Mustanski, Carlos E Rodríguez-Díaz

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Objective Sexual minority men (SMM) of colour are disproportionately impacted by HIV and bacterial STIs (bSTIs). To better understand within-group heterogeneity and differential risk factors by race and ethnicity, we sought to examine rates of undiagnosed HIV and rectal bSTI at the intersection of racial and ethnic identity with other sociodemographic factors.

Methods We examined data from 8105 SMM conducting home-based self-testing at enrolment in a nationwide cohort study collected from November 2017 to August 2018. We conducted analyses stratified by racial and ethnic groups to examine within-group (ie, subgroup) unadjusted rates of HIV and rectal bSTI infection across a range of characteristics.

Results Rates of undiagnosed HIV were highest among Black (4.3%, n=39) and Latino (2.4%, n=38) SMM, with lower rates among those identified as multiracial (1.6%, n=15), white (1.3%, n=56) and other races (1.3%, n=6). Across the stratified analyses of HIV infection, 15 significant associations emerged showing that age, region, insurance type, sexual positioning and incarceration history had differential impacts across racial and ethnic groups. In particular, private and public insurance were protective against HIV for white but not Black and Latino SMM, and incarceration was associated with substantially higher rates of HIV infection for Black and Latino SMM relative to white SMM. We found significant co-occurrence of HIV and bSTI rates for participants who identified as Latino (OR=7.5, 95% CI 2.12 to 26.54), white (OR=3.19, 95% CI 1.14 to 8.98) and multiracial (OR=5.5, 95% CI 1.08 to 27.90), but not those who identified as Black (OR=0.82, 95% CI 0.10 to 6.56) or other races (OR=3.56 95% CI 0.31 to 40.80).

Conclusions Stratified analyses showed differential rates of HIV infection at the intersection of racial and ethnic groups with other characteristics, particularly insurance status and incarceration history, pointing to structural inequities rather than individual behaviours underlying disproportionately high rates of HIV for Black and Latino SMM.

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