Conspiracy Beliefs About HIV Are Related to Antiretroviral Treatment Nonadherence Among African American Men with HIV

Published in: Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, v. 53, no. 5, Apr. 2010, p. 648-655

Posted on RAND.org on October 13, 2016

by Laura M. Bogart, Glenn Wagner, Frank H. Galvan, Denedria Banks

BACKGROUND: Medical mistrust is prevalent among African Americans and may influence health care behaviors such as treatment adherence. We examined whether a specific form of medical mistrust – HIV conspiracy beliefs (e.g., HIV is genocide against African Americans) – was associated with antiretroviral treatment nonadherence among African American men with HIV. METHODS: On baseline surveys, 214 African American men with HIV reported their agreement with 9 conspiracy beliefs, socio-demographic characteristics, depression symptoms, substance use, disease characteristics, medical mistrust, and health care barriers. Antiretroviral medication adherence was monitored electronically for one-month post-baseline among 177 men in the baseline sample. RESULTS: Confirmatory factor analysis revealed two distinct conspiracy belief subscales: genocidal beliefs (e.g., HIV is manmade) and treatment-related beliefs (e.g., people who take antiretroviral treatments are human guinea pigs for the government). Both subscales were related to nonadherence in bivariate tests. In a multivariate logistic regression, only treatment-related conspiracies were associated with a lower likelihood of optimal adherence at one-month follow-up (Odds ratio = 0.60, 95% confidence interval = 0.37 to 0.96, p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: HIV conspiracy beliefs, especially those related to treatment mistrust, can contribute to health disparities by discouraging appropriate treatment behavior. Adherence-promoting interventions targeting African Americans should openly address such beliefs.

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