Peer Social Support is Associated with Recent HIV Testing Among Young Black Men Who Have Sex with Men
Resiliency factors such as social support have been associated with more frequent HIV testing among MSM. We examined the association between social support and delayed HIV testing in the context of structural discrimination and individual factors among young Black MSM. We combined two independent cross-sectional samples recruited 1 year apart from a venue-based, modified time-location sampling study of young Black MSM aged 18-29 years in the US South. Our subsample (N = 813) was men who self-reported not being HIV positive and who indicated they had one or more male sex partners in the past 2 months. Using a social epidemiology framework we estimated associations of structural (racism and homophobia), social (social support from other Black MSM friends) and individual factors with delayed HIV testing (>6 months ago) using logistic regression. Bivariate analyses demonstrated that individual level variables as well as experiences of racism (OR 1.20, 95% CI 1.02-1.41) and homophobia (OR 1.49, 95 % CI 1.02-2.17) were associated with higher risk of delayed HIV testing. Receiving social support from other Black MSM friends was associated with lower risk of delayed HIV testing (OR 0.80, 95 % CI 0.67-0.95). In multivariable models, social support remained significantly associated with lower risk of delayed HIV testing after inclusion of structural and individual level variables. Social support has a positive and robust association with HIV testing among young Black MSM. Whether community building and development of resiliency factors can overcome structural, social, and individual-level barriers to HIV prevention and care for young Black MSM warrants further study.