To examine the association between HIV laws, perceived community stigma, and behaviors and to compare differences between and within Black and White men who have sex with men (MSM).
National HIV Behavioral Surveillance conducted interviews and HIV testing with MSM in 23 U.S. cities in 2017 using venue-based sampling methods. We used weighted cross-sectional data to compare MSM living in states with versus without HIV laws using Rao–Scott chi-square tests. We modeled the association between stigma and state HIV laws within racial groups to obtain adjusted prevalence ratios (aPR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
Among 7392 MSM, 56% lived in a state with HIV laws. In law states, Black MSM were more likely than White MSM to report their community would discriminate against persons with HIV (PWH) (59 versus 34%), not support the rights of PWH (20 versus 9%), not be friends with PWH (19 versus 10%), believe PWH ‘got what they deserved’ (27 versus 16%), and be intolerant of MSM (14 versus 5%). Adjusted for confounders, Black MSM in HIV law states were more likely to think their community would discriminate against PWH (aPR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.02–1.29; P = 0.02) and be intolerant toward MSM (aPR, 2.02; 95% CI, 1.43–2.86; P < 0.001) than Black MSM in states without such laws.
HIV laws were related to higher stigma, but only for Black MSM. Future research regarding HIV-related laws should account for racial/ethnic disparities. Modernizing laws can delegitimize stigma and promote focusing on effective HIV prevention strategies.