Non-parental Adults and Sexual Health Behaviors Among Young Minority Men: A Qualitative Examination

Front Psychol. 2021 Dec 2;12:598120. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.598120. eCollection 2021.


Young Black and Latino sexual minority men (YBLSM) exhibit disproportionately high rates of negative sexual health outcomes, including HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, compared to other groups, partly due to relatively higher rates of exposure to a host of socio-structural risk factors (e.g., unstable housing and under-employment). However, an under-studied interpersonal resource exists for many YBLSM, non-parental adults (NPAs, i.e., adults who act as role models and provide social support), who may be able to influence contextual (e.g., unemployment) and individual (e.g., reduced health expectations) factors underlying sexual health disparities. Aims: This study sought to examine the role of NPAs in factors that affect sexual health behaviors and in supporting those health behaviors directly, among YBLSM living in a mid-sized city in the southern United States. A total of n=20 participants, n=10 YBLSM (ages 16 to 22), and n=10 NPAs (ages 26 to 52) were interviewed using semi-structured guides to examine NPA involvement in the lives of YBLSM from both sides of the relationship. The research team used a framework analysis approach to iteratively identify and define meaningful codes and sub-codes. Both YBLSM and NPAs described NPAs helping YBLSM through role modeling and social support in a variety of areas found to affect sexual health behaviors, such as housing instability and psychological distress, as well as in specific behaviors, such as condom use and HIV medication adherence. Given the multiple socio-structural obstacles facing YBLSM and their multifaceted relationships with NPAs, NPAs may be a promising resource to help address these impediments to health. Partnering more intentionally with NPAs is a potentially promising strategy to help reduce HIV-related disparities affecting YBLSM that is worthy of additional empirical attention.

Keywords: HIV; LGBTQ; ethnicity; non-parental adults; social support; youth.