Perceptions of Lifetime Risk and Actual Risk for Acquiring HIV Among Young Men Who Have Sex with Men
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Among young men who have sex with men (MSM) surveyed in six US cities, we evaluated the magnitude and correlates of perceived lifetime risk for acquiring HIV, and missed opportunities to increase risk perception by providers of health-care and HIV-testing services. Overall, approximately one quarter of young MSM perceived themselves at moderate/high risk for acquiring HIV. Adjusting for demographic, prior testing, and behavioral characteristics, moderate/high perceived risk had the strongest association with unrecognized HIV infection. However, half of the 267 young MSM with unrecognized infection perceived themselves at low lifetime risk for acquiring HIV, and many young MSM with low-risk perception reported considerable risk behaviors. Providers of health-care and HIV-testing services missed opportunities to assess risks and recommend testing for young MSM. To increase HIV testing, prevention providers should intensify efforts to assess, and to increase when needed, perceptions of lifetime risks for acquiring HIV among young MSM.
KeywordsRisk perception HIV Young MSM
We are grateful to the young men who volunteered for this research project and to the dedicated staff who contributed to its success. We are especially grateful to the YMS Phase II coordinators: John Hylton and Karen Yen (Baltimore); Santiago Pedraza (Dallas); Denise Fearman-Johnson and Bobby Gatson (Los Angeles); David Forest and Henry Artiguez (Miami); Vincent Guilin (New York City); and Tom Perdue (Seattle); and to the laboratory and data management staff in all cities.
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