Exposure to Crime and Trauma Among HIV-Infected Men Who Have Sex With Men: Associations With HIV Stigma and Treatment Engagement

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Active engagement in HIV clinical care, including uptake and adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART), is necessary to optimize treatment benefit and can reduce the spread of HIV infection. Among a predominately minority sample of 303 HIV-infected men who have sex with men (MSM) who were either newly diagnosed with HIV or showed evidence of inconsistent engagement in HIV care, we explored rates of exposure to crime, sexual and physical trauma, and associations with factors potentially related to poor engagement in care. Two thirds of participants experienced a crime-related event, and nearly one third reported exposure to physical and/or sexual trauma. All three types of exposure were related to HIV stigma and to concerns about initiating ART. Associations between exposure and social support and HIV disclosure needs were also observed. Findings have implications for the role of trauma exposure and efforts to optimize treatment engagement for HIV-infected MSM.

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