AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 22, Issue 9, pp 3024–3032 | Cite as

Social Capital, Depressive Symptoms, and HIV Viral Suppression Among Young Black, Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men Living with HIV

  • Sophia A. HussenEmail author
  • Kirk A. Easley
  • Justin C. Smith
  • Neeta Shenvi
  • Gary W. Harper
  • Andres F. Camacho-Gonzalez
  • Rob Stephenson
  • Carlos del Rio
Original Paper


Social capital, the sum of an individual’s resource-containing social network connections, has been proposed as a facilitator of successful HIV care engagement. We explored relationships between social capital, psychological covariates (depression, stigma and internalized homonegativity), and viral suppression in a sample of young Black gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (YB-GBMSM). We recruited 81 HIV-positive YB-GBMSM 18–24 years of age from a clinic setting. Participants completed a cross-sectional survey, and HIV-1 viral load (VL) measurements were extracted from the medical record. Sixty-five percent (65%) were virally suppressed (HIV-1 VL ≤ 40 copies/ml). Forty-seven percent (47%) had a positive depression screen. Depressive symptoms affected viral suppression differently in YB-GBMSM with lower vs. higher social capital (p = 0.046, test for statistical interaction between depression and social capital). The odds of viral suppression among YB-GBMSM with lower social capital was 93% lower among those with depressive symptoms (OR 0.07, p = 0.002); however, there was no association between depressive symptoms and viral suppression among those with higher social capital. Our results suggest that social capital may buffer the strong negative effects of depressive symptoms on clinical outcomes in YB-GBMSM living with HIV. In addition to treating depression, there is a role for interventions to augment social capital among YB-GBMSM living with HIV as a strategy for enhancing care engagement.


Social capital Engagement in care Youth HIV 



This study was supported by the Center for AIDS Research at Emory University (P30AI050409) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U01 PS005112). We would like to also acknowledge our study participants for the time and effort of their thoughtful involvement in our study. We would also like to thank our excellent research assistants for their work on scale development, study recruitment and data entry: Candace Markley, Emily Grossniklaus, Berthine Njiemoun, Naomi David, and Brittani Carter.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of interest

All authors disclose no potential conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee (Emory IRB and Grady Research Oversight Committee) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hubert Department of Global HealthEmory University Rollins School of Public HealthAtlantaGeorgia
  2. 2.Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of MedicineEmory University School of MedicineAtlantaGeorgia
  3. 3.Department of BiostatisticsEmory University Rollins School of Public HealthAtlantaGeorgia
  4. 4.Department of Behavioral Science and Health EducationEmory University Rollins School of Public HealthAtlantaGeorgia
  5. 5.Department of Health Behavior and Health EducationUniversity of Michigan School of Public HealthAnn ArborUSA
  6. 6.Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of PediatricsEmory University School of MedicineAtlantaGeorgia
  7. 7.Department of Health Behavior and Biological SciencesUniversity of Michigan School of NursingAnn ArborUSA

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