Corsbie-Massay, C., Godoy, C., Appleby, PR., Miller, LC., Christensen, JL., Read, SJ.
There is increased promise of targeting health promotion messages for often-underrepresented racial or ethnic groups with the advent of new interactive media. However, rebranding preexisting messages with phenotypically similar (e.g., racial or ethnic congruent) protagonists, although common, may demonstrate different effects for different racial or ethnic groups. This research investigates the role of ethnic identity states on risky sexual behavior among Men of Color who have Sex with Men (MCSM), and the efficacy of a racially-targeted HIV prevention intervention (NSFW). Although it is often hypothesized that increases in gay identity may reduce risky sexual behavior by decreasing stigma, the relationship is not as simple for MCSM, for whom an increase in gay identity may conflict with their ethnic exploration and commitment. Participants included Black and Latino MSM aged 18-30 from the Los Angeles area (N = 302). Although Black and Latino MSM did not differ in instances of Unprotected Anal Intercourse (UAI) at baseline, they report significantly different levels of gay identity, ethnic exploration, and ethnic commitment (ps < .07). The 3-way interaction with gay identity revealed that Black MSM with stable ethnic identities reported less UAI at baseline as gay identity increased. The opposite effect was found for individuals in ethnic identity crisis. Furthermore, Black MSM in ethnic identity crisis demonstrated better behavior change (i.e., less instances of UAI) 3 months after engaging with a racially targeted interactive intervention, but this effect was only present for individuals with low gay identity. These findings reveal that, despite viewing a tailored phenotypically-appropriate cast, the internalization of health messages can differ based on prior experience with, and attitudes about, one’s racial group.