Stigma, medical mistrust, and perceived racism may affect PrEP awareness and uptake in black compared to white gay and bisexual men in Jackson, Mississippi and Boston, Massachusetts

AIDS Care. 2017 Nov;29(11):1351-1358. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2017.1300633. Epub 2017 Mar 12.


Gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) account for more than two thirds of new HIV infections in the U.S., with Black MSM experiencing the greatest burden. Antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) can reduce MSM's vulnerability to HIV infection. Uptake of PrEP has been limited, particularly among racial and ethnic minority MSM. Four semi-structured focus groups with gay and bisexual men and other MSM at risk for HIV infection were convened in Boston and Jackson in late 2013. The analysis plan utilized a within-case, across-case approach to code and analyze emerging themes, and to compare results across the two cities. Participants recruited in Jackson were primarily Black gay men, while Boston participants were mostly non-Hispanic White gay men. Participants in both sites shared concerns about medication side effects and culturally insensitive health care for gay men. Jackson participants described stronger medical mistrust, and more frequently described experiences of anti-gay and HIV related stigma. Multiple addressable barriers to PrEP uptake were described. Information about side effects should be explicitly addressed in PrEP education campaigns. Providers and health departments should address medical mistrust, especially among Black gay and bisexual men and other MSM, in part by training providers in how to provide affirming, culturally competent care. Medicaid should be expanded in Mississippi to cover low-income young Black gay and bisexual men and other MSM.

Keywords: Black American; MSM; PrEP; access; medical mistrust.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Attitude to Health
  • Awareness
  • Bisexuality / psychology
  • Bisexuality / statistics & numerical data
  • Boston
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV Infections / psychology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Racism / psychology*
  • Racism / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / psychology*
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Stigma*
  • Whites / psychology*
  • Whites / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult