, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 256-265
Date: 10 Mar 2011

Using Social Networks to Reach Black MSM for HIV Testing and Linkage to Care

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Abstract

Black men who have sex with men (MSM) are disproportionately affected by HIV infection. Black MSM in San Francisco may have higher rates of unrecognized HIV infections. Increased HIV testing among Black MSM may reduce the numbers of unrecognized infections, inform more men of their status and thus reduce the potential for ongoing transmissions. Social network HIV testing programs have focused on asking HIV-positive and/or high-risk negative men to recruit their social or sexual contacts. We used a network approach to deliver HIV testing to Black MSM in San Francisco and collected risk assessment data. Participants were asked to recruit any of their social contacts who were also Black MSM. Recruitment by risk level and HIV status was heterogeneous. HIV infection among this population is associated with older age, having a high school education or higher and currently being homeless. Fully 23% of HIV positive Black MSM are unaware of their infection. Only a third of unrecognized infections were recruited by a known HIV-positive participant. Linkage to care was a challenge and underscores the need for comprehensive systems and support to link Black MSM to care and treatment.