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HIV Meds Use Low Among Young MSM of Color

By Kellee Terrell

September 7, 2011

Researchers from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine conducted a study on HIV med adherence and found that antiretroviral use among young, gay men of color is low. Almost half of the HIV-positive MSM (African American and Latino) in the study with CD4 counts less than or equal to 350 were not taking meds or were not prescribed meds by their health care providers. Also, 80 percent of those with CD4 counts greater than or equal to 350 were not taking or prescribed meds.

Given the rising rates of HIV among young MSM in the U.S., these results are troublesome.

To get a better grasp as to why this is happening, researchers looked at 155 HIV-positive MSM of color and analyzed health care use, alcohol and drug use and health outcomes. AIDS Beacon reported:

The researchers also found that alcohol use was associated with low antiretroviral therapy use, which the authors suggested may be due to the fact that doctors are less likely to prescribe antiretrovirals to patients who abuse alcohol.

The authors recommended greater efforts to decrease alcohol abuse among young men who have sex with men. They also suggested continued efforts to increase the use and initiation of antiretroviral therapy among racial and ethnic minority men who have sex with men, and greater implementation of support services to encourage adherence.

"[Men who have sex with men], particularly young men, need to be educated and empowered to take control of their health, including talking with providers about medications and safer sex," said Dr. [Lisa] Hightow-Weidman.

There was some good news though.

Researchers found that those who were on treatment were doing well on it-almost 74 percent were undetectable. Weidman told AIDS Beacon, "This indicates to me that when provided with tools to improve adherence and when in a care setting in which these young men feel safe and respected, they can remain adherent to their [medication] and achieve [viral load] suppression,"

Read the study's abstract here.

Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for and

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