Do Sexual Networks of Men Who Have Sex with Men in New York City Differ by Race/Ethnicity?AIDS Patient Care STDS 2016; 30(1):39-47AP
The United States HIV epidemic disproportionately affects Black and Hispanic men who have sex with men (MSM). This disparity might be partially explained by differences in social and sexual network structure and composition. A total of 1267 MSM in New York City completed an ACASI survey and egocentric social and sexual network inventory about their sex partners in the past 3 months, and underwent HIV testing. Social and sexual network structure and composition were compared by race/ethnicity of the egos: black, non-Hispanic (N = 365 egos), white, non-Hispanic (N = 466), and Hispanic (N = 436). 21.1% were HIV-positive by HIV testing; 17.2% reported serodiscordant and serostatus unknown unprotected anal/vaginal intercourse (SDUI) in the last 3 months. Black MSM were more likely than white and Hispanic MSM to report exclusively having partners of same race/ethnicity. Black and Hispanic MSM had more HIV-positive and unknown status partners than white MSM. White men were more likely to report overlap of social and sex partners than black and Hispanic men. No significant differences by race/ethnicity were found for network size, density, having concurrent partners, or having partners with ≥10 years age difference. Specific network composition characteristics may explain racial/ethnic disparities in HIV infection rates among MSM, including HIV status of sex partners in networks and lack of social support within sexual networks. Network structural characteristics such as size and density do not appear to have such an impact. These data add to our understanding of the complexity of social factors affecting black MSM and Hispanic MSM in the U.S.