Sexual minority men who experience racial, ethnic and sexual prejudice are more likely to delay HIV testing, complicating efforts to end the more than 40-year epidemic.
This is according to a study – “Everyday Discrimination and HIV Testing Among Partnered Latino/x Sexual Minority Men in the United States: A Stratified Analysis by Birth Location” by Yong Gun Lee, Edward J. Alessi, Matthew Lynn, Tyrel J. Starks and Gabriel Robles – that appeared in AIDS Education and Prevention.
In parts of the world, the total HIV infection rates are stabilizing, noted Robles. But “what’s bad is that the trend for some subgroups, including some… sexual minority men, is going in the opposite direction.”
In a study of 484 sexual minority men, the researchers found a strong correlation between discrimination and delayed HIV testing. Everyday discrimination – perceived bias based on race, ethnicity or sexual orientation during day-to-day life – may be one reason why this is occurring, they said.
To end the HIV epidemic, a goal health authorities believe is possible by 2030, early detection is essential. But for some of the most vulnerable populations, testing frequency is falling far short of what’s needed. Delays in testing can increase the likelihood of transmission for those unaware of their HIV status.
“We have the technology to stop this epidemic; it’s things like this that are going to get in the way,” said Robles. “How can we bring the available medical technology to communities that need it? Only when we navigate psychosocial barriers will 2030 begin to look like a realistic goal.”