Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 411–420 | Cite as

Stress and Coping with Racism and Their Role in Sexual Risk for HIV Among African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Latino Men Who Have Sex with Men

  • Chong-suk HanEmail author
  • George Ayala
  • Jay P. Paul
  • Ross Boylan
  • Steven E. Gregorich
  • Kyung-Hee Choi
Original Paper


The deleterious effects of racism on a wide range of health outcomes, including HIV risk, are well documented among racial/ethnic minority groups in the United States. However, little is known about how men of color who have sex with men (MSM) cope with stress from racism and whether the coping strategies they employ buffer against the impact of racism on sexual risk for HIV transmission. We examined associations of stress and coping with racism with unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) in a sample of African American (N = 403), Asian/Pacific Islander (N = 393), and Latino (N = 400) MSM recruited in Los Angeles County, CA during 2008–2009. Almost two-thirds (65 %) of the sample reported being stressed as a consequence of racism experienced within the gay community. Overall, 51 % of the sample reported having UAI in the prior 6 months. After controlling for race/ethnicity, age, nativity, marital status, sexual orientation, education, HIV serostatus, and lifetime history of incarceration, the multivariate analysis found statistically significant main effects of stress from racism and avoidance coping on UAI; no statistically significant main effects of dismissal, education/confrontation, and social-support seeking were observed. None of the interactions of stress with the four coping measures were statistically significant. Although stress from racism within the gay community increased the likelihood of engaging in UAI among MSM of color, we found little evidence that coping responses to racism buffered stress from racism. Instead, avoidance coping appears to suggest an increase in UAI.


Sexual orientation Men who have sex with men Stress Coping HIV risk 



This research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health Grant R01 MH069119.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chong-suk Han
    • 1
    Email author
  • George Ayala
    • 2
  • Jay P. Paul
    • 3
  • Ross Boylan
    • 3
  • Steven E. Gregorich
    • 3
  • Kyung-Hee Choi
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyMiddlebury CollegeMiddleburyUSA
  2. 2.Global Forum on MSM and HIVOaklandUSA
  3. 3.Center for AIDS Prevention StudiesUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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