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J Int AIDS Soc. 2017 Apr 6;20(1):21442. doi: 10.7448/IAS.20.01/21442.

The relationship between higher social trust and lower late HIV diagnosis and mortality differs by race/ethnicity: results from a state-level analysis.

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Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
Department Behavioral and Social Sciences, Brown School of Public Health, Providence, RI, USA.
School of Public Health, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA.
Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health, City University of New York, New York, NY, USA.
Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, City University of New York, New York, USA.
The Fenway Institute, Fenway Health, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.



Black men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to suffer a disproportionate burden of new HIV diagnoses and mortality. To better understand some of the reasons for these profound disparities, we examined whether the association between social trust and late HIV diagnosis and mortality differed by race/ethnicity, and investigated potential indirect effects of any observed differences.


We performed generalized structural equation modelling to assess main and interaction associations between trust among one's neighbours in 2009 (i.e. social trust) and race/ethnicity (Black, White, and Hispanic) predicting late HIV diagnosis (a CD4 count ≤200 cell/µL within three months of a new HIV diagnosis) rates and all-cause mortality rates of persons ever diagnosed late with HIV, across 47 American states for the years 2009-2013. We examined potential indirect effects of state-level HIV testing between social trust and late HIV diagnosis. Social trust data were from the Gallup Healthways Survey, HIV data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and HIV testing from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Covariates included state-level structural, healthcare, and socio-demographic factors including income inequality, healthcare access, and population density. We stratified analysis by transmission group (male-to-male, heterosexual, and injection drug use (IDU)).


States with higher levels of social trust had lower late HIV diagnosis rates: Adjusted Rate Ratio [aRR] were consistent across risk groups (0.57; 95%CI 0.53-0.62, male-to-male), (aRR 0.58; 95%CI 0.54-0.62, heterosexual) and (aRR 0.64; 95%CI 0.60-0.69, IDU). Those associations differed by race/ethnicity (all p < 0.001). The associations were most protective for Blacks followed by Hispanics, and least protective for Whites. HIV testing mediated between 18 and 32% of the association between social trust and late HIV diagnosis across transmission group but for Blacks relative to Whites only. Social trust was associated with lower all-cause mortality rates and that association varied by race/ethnicity within the male-to-male and IDU transmission groups only.


Social trust may promote timely HIV testing, which can facilitate earlier HIV diagnosis, thus it can be a useful determinant to monitor the relationship with HIV care continuum outcomes especially for racial/ethnic minority groups disproportionately infected by HIV.


AIDS mortality; HIV care continuum; MSM; Social capital; key populations; late HIV diagnosis; race/ethnicity; surveillance

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