Racial/Ethnic Difference in HIV-related Knowledge among Young Men who have Sex with Men and their Association with Condom Errors

Garofalo, R.; Gayles, T.; Bottone, P. D.; Ryan, D.; Kuhns, L. M.; Mustanski, B.

Health Educ J. 2015 Sep 1; 74(5):518-530


OBJECTIVE: HIV disproportionately affects young men who have sex with men, and knowledge about HIV transmission is one factor that may play a role in high rate of infections for this population. This study examined racial/ethnic differences in HIV knowledge among young men who have sex with men in the USA and its correlation to condom usage errors. DESIGN: Participants included an ethnically diverse sample of 344 young men who have sex with men screened from an ongoing longitudinal cohort study. Eligible participants were between the ages of 16 and 20 years, born male, and had previously had at least one sexual encounter with a man and/or identify as gay or bisexual. This analysis is based on cross-sectional data collected at the baseline interview using computer assisted self-interviewing (CASI) software. SETTING: Chicago, IL, USA. METHOD: We utilised descriptive and inferential statistics, including ANOVA and Tukey's Post hoc analysis to assess differences in HIV knowledge by level of education and race/ethnicity, and negative binomial regression to determine if HIV knowledge was associated with condom errors while controlling for age, education and race/ethnicity. RESULTS: The study found that Black men who have sex with men scored significantly lower (average score=67%; p<.05) than their White counterparts (average score=83%) on a measure of HIV knowledge (mean difference=16.1%, p<.001). Participants with less than a high school diploma and those with a high school diploma/GED only had lower knowledge scores, on average (66.4%, 69.9%, respectively) than participants who had obtained post-high school education (78.1%; mean difference=11.7%, 8.2% respectively, ps<.05). In addition, controlling for age, race and level of education, higher HIV knowledge scores were associated with fewer condom errors (Exp B =.995, CI 0.992-0.999, p<0.05). CONCLUSION: These findings stress the need to for increased attention to HIV transmission-related educational activities targeting the social realities and unique risk mechanisms of young men who have sex with men.

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