Associations Between Neighborhood Problems and Sexual Behaviors Among Black Men Who Have Sex with Men in the Deep South: The MARI Study

Dustin T. Duncan, Madeline Y. Sutton, Su Hyun Park, Denton Callander, Byoungjun Kim, William L. Jeffries, Kirk D. Henny, Salem Harry-Hernández, Sharrelle Barber, De Marc A. Hickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a disproportionately high HIV incidence among Black men who have sex with men (MSM) despite equal or lower levels of HIV risk behaviors compared to White MSM. Due to high levels of racial segregation in the U.S., Black MSM have an elevated likelihood of living in neighborhoods that contain psychosocial stressors, which, in turn, may increase behaviors promoting HIV infection. We examined associations between perceived neighborhood problems and sexual behaviors among Black MSM in the Deep South, a population at highest risk of HIV. Data came from the MARI Study, which included Black MSM ages 18–66 years recruited from the Jackson, MS, and Atlanta, GA, metropolitan areas (n = 377). Participants completed questions about neighborhood problems (e.g., excessive noise, heavy traffic/speeding cars and trash/litter) and sexual behaviors (e.g., condomless sex and drug use before or during sex). We used Poisson’s regression model with robust standard errors to estimate the adjusted prevalence ratio (aPR; 95% confidence intervals [CI]) of neighborhood problems (coded as tertiles [tertile 1 = low neighborhood problems, tertile 2 = medium neighborhood problems, tertile 3 = high neighborhood problems] as well as continuously) with sexual behaviors, after adjustment for sociodemographic characteristics and other variables. About one-fourth of the sample reported at least one neighborhood problem, with the most common (31.6%) being no/poorly maintained sidewalks, which indicates an infrastructural problem. In multivariable models, compared to those in the lowest tertile, those reporting more neighborhood problems (tertile 2: aPR = 1.49, 95% CI = 1.04, 2.14 and tertile 3: aPR = 1.53, 95% CI = 1.05, 2.24) reported more drug use before or during sex (p for trend =.027). Neighborhood problems may promote behaviors (e.g., drug use before or during sex) conducive to HIV infection. Structural interventions could improve community infrastructure to reduce neighborhood problems (e.g., no/poorly maintained sidewalks and litter). These interventions may help to reduce HIV incidence among Black MSM in the Deep South.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-193
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Black/African-American
  • Deep South
  • Gay men’s health
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Sexual orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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