Young men who have sex with men (YMSM) are disproportionally impacted by HIV, and continue to lag behind other age groups in the receipt of HIV prevention and care services. To inform the development of interventions to improve pre-exposure prophylaxis and HIV care engagement outcomes among YMSM, a growing number of studies have reported the barriers and facilitators YMSM encounter when accessing HIV services. Few studies, however, have assessed how HIV service providers perceive these facilitators and barriers. In total, 21 interviews were conducted with HIV service providers in Chicago about barriers and facilitators they perceived affected YMSM's engagement in HIV services. Barriers included lack of comprehensive wraparound services, lack of trust of providers, unfamiliarity with seeking HIV services, feelings of invincibility, lack of knowledge of HIV service providers, intersectional and structural concerns (e.g., not thinking the site's services were for YMSM), geography and distance to clinic, and HIV stigma. Facilitators included presence of comprehensive wraparound services, high trust in providers, a clinic's willingness to serve uninsured patients, community engagement, word-of-mouth recommendations from lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) friends, intersectionality (e.g., offering LGBT-tailored services), geography and distance, lack of HIV stigma. Axial coding revealed that five conceptual themes cut across multiple barriers and facilitators, including health system characteristics, intersectionality, geography and transportation, community outreach, and stigma. These conceptual themes map closely onto Bronfenbrenner's ecological model. Overall, these findings highlight the importance of a multi-level approach to future intervention development to increase engagement in HIV services among YMSM.
Keywords: HIV prevention; YMSM; implementation science; key informant interviews; multi-level intervention development; provider perspectives.