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Social Network Characteristics and HIV Risk Among African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Latino Men Who Have Sex With Men

Choi, Kyung-Hee PhD, MPH*; Ayala, George PsyD; Paul, Jay PhD*; Boylan, Ross PhD*; Gregorich, Steven E. PhD*

JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: December 15th, 2013 - Volume 64 - Issue 5 - p 496–501
doi: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e3182a7ee52
Epidemiology and Prevention

Objectives: To examine how social networks influence HIV risk among US racial/ethnic minority men who have sex with men (MSM) and whether the associations of social network characteristics with risk vary by race/ethnicity.

Methods: A chain-referral sample of 403 African American, 393 Asian/Pacific Islander, and 400 Latino MSM recruited in Los Angeles County, California, completed a questionnaire, which asked about their egocentric social networks, safer sex peer norms, and male anal intercourse partners. HIV-nonconcordant partnerships were those reported by respondents as serodisconcordant or where self and/or partner serostatus was unknown.

Results: Overall, 26% of the sample reported HIV-nonconcordant unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) with a nonprimary male partner in the previous 6 months. In a generalized estimating equation (GEE) logistic model that controlled for race/ethnicity, age, nativity, incarceration history, and HIV status, being in a more dense network was associated with less HIV-nonconcordant UAI [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 0.92, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.86 to 0.99, P = 0.0467]. In addition, the effect of safer sex peer norms on HIV-nonconcordant UAI was moderated by ego-alter closeness (P = 0.0021). Safer sex peer norms were protective among those reporting “medium” or “high” ego-alter closeness (AOR = 0.70, 95% CI: 0.52 to 0.95, P = 0.0213 and AOR = 0.48, 95% CI: 0.35 to 0.66, P < 0.0001, respectively), but not among those reporting “low” ego-alter closeness (AOR = 0.96, 95% CI: 0.63 to 1.46, P = 0.8333). The effects of density, closeness, and norms on HIV-nonconcordant UAI did not differ by race/ethnicity.

Conclusions: The significant association of social network characteristics with UAI point to network-level factors as important loci for both ongoing research and HIV prevention interventions among US MSM of color.

*Department of Medicine, Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, CA; and

The Global Forum on MSM and HIV, Oakland, CA.

Correspondence to: Kyung-Hee Choi, PhD, MPH, Department of Medicine, Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California-San Francisco, 50 Beale Street, Suite 1300, San Francisco, CA 94105 (e-mail:

Supported by the National Institute of Mental Health Grant R01 MH069119.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Received May 02, 2013

Accepted July 23, 2013

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins