Interplay of Race and Criminal Justice Involvement on Sexual Behaviors of Young Men Who Have Sex With Men

Gregory Phillips*, Michelle Birkett, Paul Salamanca, Daniel Ryan, Robert Garofalo, Lisa Kuhns, Brian Mustanski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Criminal justice involvement is a significant problem in the United States, and poses substantial negative immediate and long-term effects, particularly among adolescents and young adults. Research has been mixed on the association between a history of arrest or incarceration and an increased risk of human immunodeficiency virus, but there are clear trends in the association between criminal justice involvement and sexual risk behaviors. Methods: Drawing from a racially or ethnically diverse sample of young men who have sex with men, we conducted an investigation into whether there was a temporal relationship between history of criminal justice involvement and engagement in high-risk sexual behaviors. We also examined whether sexual behaviors among black men who have sex with men (MSM) were more substantially impacted by arrest or incarceration than those of non-black MSM. Data were collected within a longitudinal study of young MSM in Chicago. Results: More than one-third of participants (37.8%) reported having ever been in trouble with the police in their lifetime, and 10% had been incarcerated. In multivariable analysis, black race, history of incarceration, and the interaction were all significantly positively associated with an increase in reported number of male anal sex partners. Conclusions: We found that the intersection between race and criminal justice involvement plays a major role in sexual behaviors. More research is needed to understand why a history of arrest or incarceration has a much more profound effect on black MSM than on non-black MSM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-204
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Condomless anal sex
  • Criminal justice
  • HIV
  • Race
  • YMSM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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