The authors noted the need to identify culturally relevant factors that may contribute to sexual risk among African Americans. In the current study, they investigated HIV-specific medical mistrust -- often exhibited as conspiracy beliefs about HIV (such as, "AIDS was produced in a government laboratory") -- as one such cultural factor, which might be indicative of general suspicion of messages about HIV treatment and prevention.
During a six-month period, the team measured the endorsement of HIV conspiracy beliefs three times and the frequency of condom use monthly among the study's participants, 181 HIV-positive African-American males. "A hierarchical multivariate repeated-measures logistic random effects model indicated that greater belief in HIV conspiracies was associated with a higher likelihood of reporting unprotected intercourse across all time points," the authors found.
"An average of 54 percent of participants who endorsed conspiracies reported unprotected intercourse, versus 39 percent who did not endorse conspiracies," the team concluded. "Secondary prevention interventions may need to address medical mistrust as a contributor to sexual risk among African Americans living with HIV."