Methods: We identified and recruited current service recipients at a community-based organization in Washington DC to participate in focus group discussions. We conducted two focus group discussions with a total of (15) Black MSM living with HIV; (7) individuals participated in the first group discussion, and (8) participated in the second focus group discussion. A semi-structured interview guide was used to guide the group discussions with questions focusing on barriers to HIV treatment and mental health needs. Participants’ responses were transcribed verbatim and assigned into descriptive categories using a coding scheme.
Results: The findings from the focus group discussions confirmed the need for integrated behavioral and mental health services for Black MSM living with HIV. Participants reported major issues with accessing mental health services which included but were not limited to lack of health insurance and availability of culturally competent mental health and HIV care providers. Several participants reported that they would prefer providers that are LGBTQ-trained and have experience working with that population. Additionally, our findings reveal that mental health issues faced by Black MSM living with HIV are often not assessed and addressed during routine HIV care by HIV care providers. Lastly, several participants reported not achieving HIV viral load suppression as a result of the unaddressed psychosocial issues.
Conclusion and Implication: This study explored the intersectionality of sexual orientation, mental health, and healthcare of Black MSM living with HIV. Having a healthcare provider that is culturally competent in LGBTQ issues and mental health was salient in the outcomes of this study. It is critical that HIV service providers undertake an integrated HIV treatment approach that includes mental health services for Black MSM living with HIV, particularly during routine HIV care.