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Neighborhood and Network Characteristics and the HIV Care Continuum among Gay, Bisexual, and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men

Journal of Urban Health
Hong-Van Tieu, Beryl A. Koblin, Carl Latkin, Frank C. Curriero, Emily R. Greene, Andrew Rundle, Victoria Frye


In order for treatment as prevention to work as a national strategy to contain the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States (US), the HIV care continuum must become more robust, retaining more individuals at each step. The majority of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in the US are gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM). Within this population, there are distinct race- and ethnicity-based disparities in rates of HIV infection, engagement, and retention in HIV care, and viral suppression. Compared with White MSM, HIV-infected Black MSM are less likely to be on anti-retroviral therapy (ART), adhere to ART, and achieve viral suppression. Among MSM living in urban areas, falling off the continuum may be influenced by factors beyond the individual level, with new research identifying key roles for network- and neighborhood-level characteristics. To inform multi-level and multi-component interventions, particularly to support Black MSM living in urban areas, a clearer understanding of the pathways of influence among factors at various levels of the social ecology is required. Here, we review and apply the empirical literature and relevant theoretical perspectives to develop a series of potential pathways of influence that may be further evaluated. Results of research based on these pathways may provide insights into the design of interventions, urban planning efforts, and assessments of program implementation, resulting in increased retention in care, ART adherence, and viral suppression among urban-dwelling, HIV-infected MSM.

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