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Sexual Networks and HIV Risk among Black Men Who Have Sex with Men in 6 U.S. Cities

Wang, Lei; Griffith, Sam; Koblin, Beryl

Sexual networks may place U.S. Black men who have sex with men (MSM) at increased HIV risk.
Self-reported egocentric sexual network data from the prior six months were collected from 1,349 community-recruited Black MSM in HPTN 061, a multi-component HIV prevention intervention feasibility study. Sexual network composition, size, and density (extent to which members are having sex with one another) were compared by self-reported HIV serostatus and age of the men. GEE models assessed network and other factors associated with having a Black sex partner, having a partner with at least two age category difference (age difference between participant and partner of at least two age group categories), and having serodiscordant/serostatus unknown unprotected anal/vaginal intercourse (SDUI) in the last six months.
Over half had exclusively Black partners in the last six months, 46% had a partner of at least two age category difference, 87% had ≤5 partners. Nearly 90% had sex partners who were also part of their social networks. Among HIV-negative men, not having anonymous/exchange/ trade partners and lower density were associated with having a Black partner; larger sexual network size and having non-primary partners were associated with having a partner with at least two age category difference; and having anonymous/exchange/ trade partners was associated with SDUI. Among HIV-positive men, not having non-primary partners was associated with having a Black partner; no sexual network characteristics were associated with having a partner with at least two age category difference and SDUI.
Black MSM sexual networks were relatively small and often overlapped with the social networks. Sexual risk was associated with having non-primary partners and larger network size. Network interventions that engage the social networks of Black MSM, such as interventions utilizing peer influence, should be developed to address stable partnerships, number of partners, and serostatus disclosure.

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April 22, 2016
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