Health care access and health behaviors among men who have sex with men: the cost of health disparities

Health Educ Behav. 2013 Feb;40(1):32-41. doi: 10.1177/1090198111436340. Epub 2012 Apr 13.


Men who have sex with men (MSM) appear to experience barriers to health care compared with general population men. This report examines individual differences in health care access within a diverse sample of urban MSM (N = 871). The authors examined demographic differences in health care access and the relation between access and health-related attitudes, health behaviors, and HIV transmission risk. They operationalized health care access in terms of three indicators: perceived barriers, insurance status, and recent medical visit. Twenty-seven percent (n = 227) of MSM reported zero or one health care access indicator. African American and Latino race/ethnicity, lower income, and HIV-unknown status were associated with limited health care access. Limited health care access was related to health care attitudes (mistrust in the health care system and difficulty disclosing MSM status to providers), general health behaviors (smoking, never being HIV-tested, and drug abuse), and sexual risk-related variables (low self-efficacy for sexual safety, consistent drug use during sex, and HIV transmission risk). Overall, among MSM, less health care access relates to several adverse psychological constructs and health behaviors. Researchers and public health officials should address limited health care access, and its consequences, in this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Chicago / epidemiology
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • HIV Seropositivity / epidemiology
  • HIV Seropositivity / psychology
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Healthcare Disparities* / statistics & numerical data
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Unsafe Sex / psychology
  • Unsafe Sex / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult