African-American men who have sex with men (MSM) with HIV are more likely to have unsuppressed viral load than other racial/ethnic groups. HPTN 065 Study, completed in 2015, consisted of five interconnected study components conducted at clinics in Bronx, New York and Washington, D.C. Participants completed surveys with questions related to socio-demographic factors and individual-level HIV medication adherence barriers, such as forgetting doses or fear of taking medications in front of others. Descriptive analyses and ordinal logistic regression with robust standard errors were conducted. Fifty-seven per cent of participants (N = 359) were African-American (57.1%) and roughly 40% had no more than a high school education. Mean age was 48 years. Overall, MSM with viral load suppression identified fewer individual-level barriers to adherence (p < .01) and individuals with depressive symptoms identified a greater number of barriers to adherence (p < .01). Compared to African-Americans, white MSM had a lower likelihood of identifying barriers to adherence (p < .05). Findings suggest that individual-level barriers to HIV medication adherence are common among MSM, irrespective of time since diagnosis and viral suppression. Race-specific interventions which address intersectional stigma are needed to improve health outcomes among African-American MSM, who bear much of the burden of poor HIV outcomes in the United States.
Keywords: African Americans; HIV medication adherence; HIV/AIDS; Health disparities; social; stigma.