Sexual Minority Stress and Cellular Aging in Methamphetamine-Using Sexual Minority Men with Treated HIV

Delaram Ghanooni, Adam W. Carrico, Renessa Williams, Tiffany R. Glynn, Judith T. Moskowitz, Savita Pahwa, Suresh Pallikkuth, Margaret E. Roach, Samantha Dilworth, Bradley E. Aouizerat, Annesa Flentje

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective Sexual minority men (e.g., gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men) experience stigma and sexual minority stress, which are theorized to drive negative health outcomes. Sexual minority men with treated HIV display persistent immune dysregulation, which could be amplified by sexual minority stress responses to potentiate cellular aging. Methods This cross-sectional study included 52 sexual minority men living with HIV who had undetectable viral load (<40 copies/mL) and biologically confirmed recent methamphetamine use. Participants completed measures assessing sexual minority stress and openness about sexual minority status (i.e., outness). DNA methylation-derived outcomes included the following: the extrinsic epigenetic age acceleration clock, telomere length, naive CD4+ T-helper cells, and naive CD8+ T-cytotoxic/suppressor cells. Results After adjusting for negative affect and recent stimulant use, higher sexual minority stress was associated with a faster extrinsic epigenetic age acceleration clock (β = 0.29, p =.030), shorter telomere length (β =-0.43, p =.002), and fewer naive CD4+ (β =-0.57, p <.001) and naive CD8+ T cells (β =-0.57, p <.001). Greater outness was associated with higher naive CD4+ (β = 0.32, p =.030) and naive CD8+ T cells (β = 0.38, p =.008) as well as lower plasma interleukin 6 (β =-0.33, p =.027). Conclusions Sexual minority stress processes are associated with markers of cellular aging and inflammation in methamphetamine-using sexual minority men living with HIV. Longitudinal research should elucidate biobehavioral mechanisms linking sexual minority stress processes with accelerated cellular aging in those with and without HIV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)949-956
Number of pages8
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022


  • HIV
  • aging
  • epigenetic clock
  • methamphetamine
  • sexual minority stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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