Young Men’s Disclosure of Same Sex Behaviors to Healthcare Providers and the Impact on Health: Results from a US National Sample of Young Men Who Have Sex with Men
Many men who have sex with men (MSM) do not disclose their same sex behaviors to healthcare providers (HCPs). We used a series of logistic regression models to explore a conceptual framework that first identified predictors of disclosure to HCPs among young MSM (YMSM), and subsequently examined young men’s disclosure of male-male sexual behaviors to HCPs as a mediator between sociodemographic and behavioral factors and three distinct health outcomes [HIV testing, sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination]. We determined the predictors of disclosure to HCPs among YMSM and examined the relationship between disclosure and the receipt of appropriate healthcare services. Data were collected online through a US national sample of 1750 YMSM (ages 18-29 years) using a social and sexual networking website for MSM. Sexual history, STI/HIV screening history, sexual health, and patient-provider communication were analyzed in the logistic regression models. Participants were predominantly white (75.2%) and gay/homosexual (76.7%) with at least some college education (82.7%). Young men’s disclosure of male-male sexual behaviors to HCPs was associated with the receipt of all healthcare outcomes in our model. Disclosure was a stronger mediator in HPV vaccination than in HIV and STI testing. Disclosure to non-HCP friends and family, HCP visit in the past year, and previous STI diagnosis were the strongest predictors of disclosure. Young men’s disclosure of male-male sexual behaviors to HCPs is integral to the receipt of appropriate healthcare services among YMSM. HPV vaccination is more dependent on provider-level interaction with patients than HIV/STI testing.