We examined associations between COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs and HIV status neutral care engagement among Black cisgender sexual minority men (BCSMM) and Black transgender women (BTW). Throughout April-July 2020, a total of 226 (222 in the current analysis: 196 BCSMM, 20 BTW, and 6 other) participants in Chicago’s Neighborhoods and Networks (N2) cohort study completed virtual assessments. Participants reported their HIV status, changes in the frequency of PrEP/ART use, and COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs. Three-quarters of the sample believed at least one conspiracy theory that COVID-19 was either government-created or lab-created accidentally or purposefully. Believing one or more COVID-19 conspiracy theories was significantly associated with better PrEP or ART engagement (using PrEP more frequently or continuously using PrEP/Missing ART less or continuously using ART) (aPR = 0.75 [95% CI 0.56-0.99], p < 0.05). Believing COVID-19 came about naturally was strongly associated with worse PrEP engagement (i.e., use PrEP less or not on PrEP) or worse ART engagement (i.e., missed ART more or not on ART) (aPR = 1.56 [95% CI 1.23, 1.98], p < 0.001). Findings suggested substantial COVID-19 conspiracies among BCSMM and BTW, and this was associated with HIV care engagement.
COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs are not barriers to HIV status neutral care among Black cisgender sexual minority men and Black transgender women at the initial peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Chicago, USA
AIDS and Behavior [Epub 2022 Jun 22]. doi: 10.1007/s10461-022-03720-7. PMCID: PMC9214465.