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An examination of social network characteristics of men who have sex with men who use drugs
  1. K E Tobin,
  2. C A Latkin
  1. Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Karin E Tobin, Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, 2213 McElderry Street, Second floor, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA; ktobin{at}jhsph.edu

Abstract

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to compare the social network characteristics of men who have sex with men (MSM) to men who did not have sex with men (NMSM) in a sample of predominately African-American drug users. Specifically, we were interested in examining the differences in structure of the networks and drug and sexual risk partners within the network.

Methods: Data came from 481 male participants who reported having ⩾1 sex partner in the past 90 days. MSM were defined as having sex with a male. Data on social network composition were collected using a Social Network Inventory.

Results: Of 481 men, 7% (n = 32) were categorised as MSM. Nearly two-thirds of MSM did not identify as gay. MSM were more likely to be HIV positive compared with NMSM. Social networks of MSM were younger and a greater proportion was HIV positive. After adjusting for HIV status, networks of MSM were less dense indicating fewer connections among network members. Among injection drug using men in the sample, MSM reported a greater number of needle sharing networks than NMSM.

Conclusions: These findings underscore the importance of including social network factors in investigations of HIV risk among MSM. Further studies should focus on dynamics within a network and how they may operate to affect behaviour and health.

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Footnotes

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Funding: This research was funded through a grant from the National Institutes of Drug Abuse (R01 DA016555).

  • Ethics approval: This study was reviewed and approved by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Institutional Review Board.

  • Contributors: KT conceived the idea for the study, conducted the data analysis and took the lead in writing the manuscript. CL provided guidance and comment on the data analysis and assisted with writing the manuscript.

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