Men who have sex with men (MSM) who attend church are more likely to receive an HIV diagnosis late in the course of their infection, aidsmap reports. Some evidence also suggests an association between church attendance and less frequent HIV testing among MSM. Publishing their findings in the online edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers at the 1917 Clinic in Birmingham conducted a cross-sectional study of 508 people newly diagnosed with HIV after 2007.

Sixty-two percent of the participants were African American. Sixty percent were MSM, 21 percent were men who have sex with women, and 18 percent were women who have sex with men. Fifty-three percent of MSM, 59 percent of MSW and 64 percent of WSM attended church.

Thirty-two percent of the participants had a CD4 count under 200 when they entered into HIV care, which categorized them as late testers. Thirty-two percent of church-going MSM tested late, compared with 20 percent of MSM who did not attend church. After controlling for other factors, the researchers found that attending church was linked to a 2.2-fold increase in the likelihood of being diagnosed with HIV late among MSM.

The researchers voiced caution about drawing inference from these findings, since they were merely associative and not causal in nature.

To read the aidsmap story, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.