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Am J Mens Health. 2019 May-Jun;13(3):1557988319852447. doi: 10.1177/1557988319852447.

Developing HIV Prevention Interventions for Emerging Adult MSM With a History of Being Bullied: A Qualitative Study.

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1 Department of Psychology, University of Windsor, Canada.
2 The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health, Boston, MA, USA.
3 Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
4 Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.
5 Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


The experience of being bullied in childhood or adolescence affects health into adulthood and is a public health crisis. Particularly affected are sexual minority young adults who are at the greatest risk for severe and violent bullying, HIV seroconversion, and onset of a substance use disorder. Although the scholarly work in the area of bullying victimization has made great gains over the past few years via improved sampling and methodological rigor, most of the focus of health research in this area has been on prevention efforts. The purpose of the current study was to inform the development of a transdiagnostic integrated treatment platform that will focus on mental and physical health outcomes that include sexual risk taking and substance abuse. This study involved conducting four focus groups with HIV-uninfected gay and bisexual men, aged 18 to 26 years, in order to examine treatment needs and preferences and further develop an evidence-based intervention. Four themes emerged from the analysis of transcripts: (a) learning about bullying and psychopathology, (b) coping with bullying, (c) experiencing psychopathology as a consequence of bullying, and (d) tailoring psychosocial interventions to address health sequelae linked with bullying. These themes provided a solid foundation to develop and test an intervention to address key health risks among men who have sex with men (MSM) with a history of being bullied and recent sexual risk taking and substance abuse.


HIV prevention; MSM; bullying; intervention development; substance use

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