Background: Although there is limited literature on medication adherence (including HIV care engagement) and COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in general populations (i.e., non-sexual or gender minority populations), even less is known about whether HIV care engagement correlates with COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among sexual and gender minorities, especially those from intersectional backgrounds. The objective of the current study was to examine if an association exists between HIV status neutral care (i.e., current pre-exposure prophylaxis [PrEP] or antiretroviral therapy [ART] use) and COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy among Black cisgender sexual minority men and transgender women at the initial peak of the pandemic. Methods: We conducted the N2 COVID Study in Chicago from 20 April 2020 to 31 July 2020 (analytic n = 222), including Black cisgender sexual minority men and transgender women who were vulnerable to HIV as well as those who were living with HIV. The survey included questions regarding HIV care engagement, COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy and COVID-19 related socio-economic hardships. Multivariable associations estimated adjusted risk ratios (ARRs) using modified Poisson regressions for COVID vaccine hesitancy adjusting for baseline socio-demographic characteristics and survey assessment time period. Results: Approximately 45% of participants reported COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. PrEP and ART use were not associated with COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy when examined separately or combined (p > 0.05). There were no significant multiplicative effects of COVID-19 related socio-economic hardships and HIV care engagement on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. Conclusions: Findings suggest no association between HIV care engagement and COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among Black cisgender sexual minority men and transgender women at the initial peak of the pandemic. It is therefore essential that COVID-19 vaccine promotion interventions focus on all Black sexual and gender minorities regardless of HIV care engagement and COVID-19 vaccine uptake is likely related to factors other than engagement in HIV status neutral care.
Duncan, Dustin T., Su Hyun Park, Yen-Tyng Chen, Brett Dolotina, Wilder R. Worrall, Hillary Hanson, Mainza Durrell, Gustavo Arruda Franco, Stephen S. Morse, and John A. Schneider. 2023. “HIV Care Engagement Is Not Associated with COVID-19 Vaccination Hesitancy during the Initial Peak of the COVID-19 Pandemic among Black Cisgender Sexual Minority Men and Transgender Women in the N2 COVID Study” Vaccines 11, no. 4: 787. https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines11040787