Consider social determinants of health when trying to help gay and bisexual men, stressed Milena Murray, PharmD, MSc, BCIDP, AAHIVP, associate professor at Midwestern University College of Pharmacy.
Social determinants of health are an important factor to address when trying to help gay and bisexual men overcome the higher risk of contracting HIV that they still face, stressed Milena Murray, PharmD, MSc, BCIDP, AAHIVP, associate professor at Midwestern University College of Pharmacy who practices at Northwestern Medicine's Infectious Disease Center in Chicago.
Why do White, Latino, and African American gay and bisexual men continue to face a higher risk of contracting HIV vs the general population?
So my strong feeling as to why these patient populations are still seeing an increase in the incidence is that they don't feel safe accessing care. They come to a clinic and people don't understand the need for preferred pronouns or how to ask them about their sexual activity.
I work in Chicago, where we have a very overall accepting environment. Unfortunately, patients across the nation don't always have that open environment. And these additional risk factors are really a social construct. So there shouldn't be a reason why these patients have an increased incidence. We also need to be asking the correct questions about sexual health, because you can't assume someone's sexual orientation or preferences just based on their gender or their preferred gender.
From there, we need to address other social determinants of health, such as mental wellness, because this could lead to patients not coming to clinic appointments. And we also need to have providers that mirror our patients, so that when the patient comes for care, they say, “Oh, my provider is like me. I feel safe in this environment.” And overall, there's a shortage of HIV care providers right now.
So we really want those patients to feel safe when they go to clinic to seek care and have a very nonjudgmental environment.