Elevated Perceived Risk for HIV as a Barrier to Accessing Health Care Among Black Men Who Have Sex with Men

Lisa A. Eaton, Ryan J. Watson, Jessica L. Maksut, Katherine B. Rucinski, Valerie A. Earnshaw, Marcie Berman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We sought to examine how self-perception of risk for HIV and HIV status information avoidance are related to HIV testing uptake and engagement in routine health care among Black men who have sex with men (BMSM)—the group at highest risk for HIV in the USA. To do so, we used generalized linear modeling and serial mediation modeling to assess data from 342 HIV-negative BMSM collected from 2017 to 2019 in Atlanta, GA, USA. Participants reported considerable concern for testing HIV-positive; 40% reported believing they would test positive for HIV; 27% reported being “extremely concerned about getting HIV”; and 17% reported worrying about HIV “all the time”. Mediation analyses demonstrated that greater concern for HIV was associated with longer intervals since the last HIV test and the last health-care appointment. BMSM perceived themselves to be at considerable risk for HIV, but critically, this outlook did not yield improved health-care behaviors. Findings highlight the need to reconceptualize our public health approach to reaching BMSM. Emphasizing risk behavior and targeting efforts toward BMSM may have unintended consequences and need to be reevaluated. Despite continued efforts to improve HIV-related outcomes, we are failing to meet the needs of BMSM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)917-925
Number of pages9
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Black MSM
  • HIV testing
  • Health care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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