Social Inequalities and Health Disparities Based on Race/Ethnicity, Older Age and Sexual Minority Status

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Principal Investigator: Chandra Ford

One in four persons living with HIV/AIDS is aged 50 or older (i.e., older adult); unfortunately, older adults are disproportionately diagnosed in late stages of HIV disease. Psychological barriers, including belief in AIDS-related conspiracy theories (e.g., HIV was created to eliminate certain groups) and mistrust in the government, may influence their HIV testing behaviors. We examined these relations in a cross-sectional study among older adults in a large venue-based study. None had a previous diagnosis of HIV/AIDS; all were seeking care at venues with high HIV prevalence. We estimated associations between self-reported belief in AIDS-related conspiracy theories, mistrust in the government, and HIV testing performed within the past year. Among the 226 participants, 30% reported belief in AIDS conspiracy theories, 72% reported government mistrust, and 45% reported not undergoing HIV testing within the past year. Belief in conspiracy theories was positively associated with recent HIV testing (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 1.94, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.05–3.60), whereas mistrust in the government was negatively associated with testing (OR = 0.43, 95% CI = 0.26–0.73). Psychological barriers are prevalent among at-risk older adults seeking services in high HIV prevalence venues, and may influence HIV testing.