Promoting communication among African American men who have sex with men (AA MSM) and their social networks about HIV testing is an avenue for altering HIV prevention social norms. This study examined the attitudes of AA MSM on talking with peers about HIV testing and characteristics of their network members with whom they have these conversations.
Data came from a cross-sectional survey of 226 AA MSM who were 18 years or older and self-reported sex with another male in the prior 90 days. Participants completed an inventory to characterize network members with whom they had conversations about HIV testing and HIV status.
Most of the sample reported that it was important/very important to talk to male friends about HIV (85%) and that they were comfortable/very comfortable talking with their friends about sexual behaviors (84%). However, a small proportion of the social network had been talked to by the participant about HIV testing (14%). Among sexual networks, 58% had been talked to about their HIV status, and this was positively associated with main and casual partner type compared with partners with whom money or drugs were exchanged.
Findings suggest that positive attitudes about communication may be necessary but not sufficient for actual conversations to occur. Designing interventions that increase communication with social networks is warranted.