Longitudinal Associations between Police Harassment and Experiences of Violence among Black Men Who Have Sex with Men in Six US Cities: the HPTN 061 Study

J Urban Health. 2021 Apr;98(2):172-182. doi: 10.1007/s11524-021-00526-1. Epub 2021 Apr 5.


Interactions with the police may result in police brutality, particularly for people of color. Black men who have sex with men (BMSM) face disproportionate risk of police contact and may experience elevated violence risk. We measured longitudinal associations between discriminatory police harassment (DPH) and subsequent risk of a range of interpersonal violence experiences, including intimate partner violence (IPV). In this study, we estimated associations between DPH motivated by racism, homophobia, or both, and subsequent violent experiences (being physically harassed, hit, threatened with weapons, and intimate partner violence) among BMSM. Bivariate and multivariable regression analyses were used to control for demographic and behavioral factors. Among 1160 BMSM included at 12-month follow-up, experiencing DPH motivated by racism and homophobia was associated with over four times the odds of being threatened with violence (AOR 4.85, 95% CI 3.20, 7.33), four times the odds of or experiencing violence defined as being punched, kicked, or beaten, or having an object thrown at them (AOR 4.51, 95% CI 2.82, 7.19), and nearly three times the odds of physical partner abuse (AOR 3.49, 95% CI 1.69, 7.19). Findings suggest that for BMSM, DPH is associated with the threat and experience of violence, with a dose-response relationship between DPH motivated by one or more causes. Given that BMSM are a population particularly vulnerable to both police harassment related to race and sexual orientation and violence coupled with stigma, additional research evaluating mechanisms linking these associations is needed in order to develop additional supportive interventions.

Keywords: Men who have sex with men (MSM); Police harassment; Violence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American
  • Cities
  • Female
  • Homosexuality, Male
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence*
  • Male
  • Police
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities*
  • Violence