Background: American Indian and Alaska Natives suffer pervasive health disparities, including disproportionately high rates of HIV. Sexual network dynamics, including concurrency and sexual mixing patterns, are key determinants of HIV disparities.
Methods: We analyzed data from the first national study of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender American Indian and Alaska Natives to examine the prevalence of concurrency, sex and race of partners, and level of risk across different partnership patterns. Egocentric network data were analyzed at the level of the respondents, who were grouped according to the sex of their last 3 partners.
Results: Overall rates of HIV and concurrency were high in this population. HIV prevalence (34%) and cumulative prevalence of concurrency (55%) were highest among men who had sex with only men, while women who had sex with only women reported lower concurrency and HIV. Women who had sex with women and men also had high HIV prevalence (15%) and reported slightly higher concurrency risk and low condom use, making them effective bridge populations.
Conclusions: The uniformly high rates of Native partner selection creates the potential for amplification of disease spread within this small community, while the high rates of selecting partners of other races creates the potential for bridging to other groups in the transmission network. These findings provide some of the first insights into sexual networks and concurrency among Native gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender populations and suggest that both men and women deserve attention in HIV prevention efforts at individual, dyadic and population levels.