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Sexual and Behavioral Health Disparities Among Sexual Minority Hispanics/Latinos: Findings From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2001–2014

      Introduction

      Hispanics/Latinos (henceforth, Latinos) are the largest minority group in the U.S. With growing health disparities among this group, the highest burden remains among sexual and gender minority Latinos. Differences regarding sexual orientation have not been fully explored within this group using national representative samples. This study analyzed sexual and behavioral health disparities associated with sexual minority status among Latinos in the U.S.

      Methods

      The study included data from 5,598 Latino adults who participated in the 2001–2014 waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Data analysis was conducted in 2016. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses examined the prevalence of HIV, sexually transmitted infections, mental health problems, cigarette smoking, and alcohol/illicit drug use among sexual minorities and heterosexual Latino adults. Sexual minorities were defined as “gay, lesbian, and bisexual” (GLB) and “other” non-heterosexual groups.

      Results

      GLB Latinos reported higher prevalence of mental health problems and cigarette smoking compared with heterosexuals. After adjusting for covariates, GLB Latinos had greater odds of testing positive for HIV, lifetime diagnosis of sexually transmitted infections, poor mental health outcomes, cigarette smoking (including lifetime and current smoking status), and illicit drug use than heterosexuals.

      Conclusions

      The disproportionate impact of health disparities among Latinos varies significantly by sexual orientation, with GLB individuals facing elevated prevalence. In particular, elevated odds for HIV/sexually transmitted infections, mental health problems, smoking, and illicit substance use were found. Further research, including longitudinal studies to understand the trajectories of risks, is needed to identify intervention opportunities in this population.
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