Cardiovascular disease risk factors are elevated among a cohort of young sexual and gender minorities in Chicago

Ethan Morgan, Richard D’Aquila, Mercedes R. Carnethon, Brian Mustanski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


To date, little research has examined cardiovascular (CVD) risk among young sexual and gender minorities, a population which behavioral research has suggested may be at unique risk of poor CVD outcomes. We assessed behavioral risk factors and biomarkers of CVD risk among young sexual and gender minorities (YSGM) aged 16–29 in Chicago who are participants in the RADAR cohort (analytic N = 936). Multiplex cytokine and inflammatory biomarker assays were run on plasma from all HIV+ participants and demographically-matched HIV- participants (n = 237). Geographic data were used to assess mean C-reactive protein (CRP) level per community area of residence in Chicago. YSGM in this cohort exhibited lower rates of obesity (19.2% in RADAR vs. 35.7% in earlier studies of heterosexual youth) and comparable rates of past 30-day tobacco use (37.9 vs. 38.1%). Conversely, higher rates were observed among several other risk factors including C-reactive protein (mean = 6.9 mg/L vs. 2.1 mg/L), marijuana use (72.5 vs. 45.3%), perceived stress (mean = 15.5 vs. 14.2), and HIV (20.0 vs. < 1% nationally). Finally, we observed geographic heterogeneity in mean CRP values by community area across the Chicago region with the highest and lowest values both found in neighborhoods on the North side of the city. In sum, these analyses demonstrate that YSGM may be at increased risk of CVD beginning from an early age. Future research should assess whether sexual minority-related stressors increase long-term CVD risk and should also longitudinally study the role of multiple risk factors on CVD morbidity and mortality among YSGM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1073-1081
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • HIV
  • Inflammation
  • MSM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Psychology(all)


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