A novel measure of poverty and its association with elevated sexual risk behavior among young Black MSM

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This study determined whether a novel (single-item) measure of poverty is associated with elevated sexual risk among young Black men who have sex with men who reside in a US city with high HIV seroprevalence. A convenience sample of 600 Black men who have sex with men (ages 16–29) completed a computer-assisted self-interview. The questionnaire included an item asking men, ‘In the past 12 months have you missed meals because you did not have enough money to eat?’ Selected measures of sexual risk and prevalence of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV were assessed as outcomes of this novel measure of poverty. About 22% had missed meals due to lack of money. In age-adjusted analyses, these men were more likely to report: (1) having concurrent sex partners (P = .03), (2) having sex with partners who were generally five or more years older (P = .02), (3) not using condoms the first time they had sex with their most recent new partner (P = .015), (4) having sex with persons not known by name (P = .02), (5) depending on sex partners for food, money, and shelter (P < .0001), and (6) testing positive for Chlamydia at study enrollment (P < .02). Of interest, an association in frequency of recent condomless anal sex as top (P = .04) was observed; however, the association for recent condomless sex as bottom (P = .37) was not significant. For young Black men who have sex with men, a novel method of assessing poverty may be predictive of many sexual risk behaviors. Clinicians may benefit this population by including this question as part of their patient interview and prioritizing services when indicated.

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