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Hightow-Weidman LB, Jones K, Phillips G, Wohl A, Giordano TP, YMSM of Color SPNS Initiative Study Group. Baseline clinical characteristics, antiretroviral therapy use, and viral load suppression among HIV-positive young men of color who have sex with men. AIDS Patient Care and Stds. 2011 Aug 1; 25 Suppl 1:S9-14.
Given the continued high incidence of HIV infection in the United States among racial/ethnic minority young men who have sex with men (YMSM), and an appreciation that antiretroviral therapy (ART) can provide personal and public health benefits, attention is needed to enhance the detection of HIV-infected youth and engage them in medical care and support services that encourage sustained HIV treatment and suppression of viremia. Poor retention in clinical care has been associated with higher mortality, an increase in HIV RNA, and decreased CD4 cell count. The goal of the current study was to evaluate the health care utilization and health outcomes of HIV-infected racial/ethnic minority YMSM enrolled in an outreach, linkage, and retention study funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB). We hypothesized that among racial/ethnic minority YMSM, baseline CD4 counts and usage of ART are influenced by age, race, drug and alcohol use, and mental health symptoms. Overall, 155 subjects had at least a baseline CD4 count recorded at study entry. There was a low rate of ART use in this population with only one-half of the cohort with CD4 counts 350 cells/mm(3) being prescribed ART to treat their infection. However, of those youth who were started on ART, the majority (74%) did achieve undetectable viral loads ( < 400 copies). Given the continued increase in cases of HIV infection among racial/ethnic minority YMSM, efforts to increase both the provision of ART and support services that encourage adherence in this population are warranted.