Autonomy-supportive sexual health communication and sexual health behaviors for black and Latino MSM in the House Ball Community: Protocol for a social network analysis and exploratory structural equation model

PLoS One. 2023 Feb 3;18(2):e0276350. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0276350. eCollection 2023.


Background: Black and Latino men who have sex with men (MSM) have the highest risk of HIV of any group in the U.S. Prevalence could be even higher among Black and Latino MSM belonging to the House Ball Community (HBC), an understudied community comprised primarily of Black and Latino sexual and gender minorities, with HIV prevalence from non-probability samples ranging from 4% to 38%.

Objectives: Basic Psychological Needs Theory will be utilized to understand how sexual health communication (SHC) influences sexual health behaviors of HBC-MSM. The proposed study will advance this goal by describing characteristics of SHC embedded within social and sexual networks, and identifying the effects of SHC on sexual health behaviors among a sample of Black and Latino HBC-MSM.

Methods: This study entails cross-sectional quantitative survey design with internet-based data collection to test a theory-driven model of the effects of autonomy supportive communication on sexual health behaviors. Respondent-driven sampling (RDS) and internet driven sampling (ID) will be used to recruit a sample of 200 HBC-MSM. We will utilize egocentric network analysis to describe (a) the HBC-specific social and/or sexual network members who provide SHC; (b) the degree of autonomy support provided by network members, and (c) the sexual health behaviors characterizing the sample of HBC-MSM. Structural equation modeling (SEM) will be performed to test associations between autonomy supportive sexual health communication (independent variable) and sexual health behaviors (outcome), with needs satisfaction and intrinsic motivation as intervening mediators.

Discussion: Such knowledge is necessary to expand understanding of how SHC impacts sexual health behaviors for HBC-MSM. The study provides an critical perspective on sexual health behaviors and motivations as participants operate in HBC. Knowledge generated from this study will help improve current HIV prevention interventions, as well as inform the development of future interventions, tailored to HBC-MSM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections* / prevention & control
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Communication*
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Social Network Analysis