“Our Lives Matter”: Exploring the Impact of COVID-19 on Black/African American and Latino Sexual Minority Men Access to HIV Prevention and Treatment Services, Resource Security, and Vaccination Acceptance and Uptake

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There is an urgent convergence of two pandemics that is disproportionately affecting marginalized racial (Black/African American and Latino) and sexual minority men, HIV and SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). The current COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted HIV treatment and prevention services, with the full impact of that disruption still unknown. Additionally, as the race for a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 continues, there is growing skepticism and fear regarding their safety and effectiveness. Moreover, given the history of medical experimentations on African Americans and Latinx individuals (i.e., Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male and forced sterilization in California), a history of structural and institutional racism, medical distrust, and other contextual factors, there is a dire need for studies that explore these historical issues among vulnerable individuals within this marginalized group. Utilizing a conceptual framework based on the social-ecological model, the aims of this study are 1) to explore the impact of COVID-19 and shelter-in-place orders on Black/African American and Latino sexual minority men access to HIV prevention and treatment services, resource security, and overall well-being; and 2) to identify multilevel factors affecting Black/African American and Latino sexual minority men’s COVID-19 vaccination acceptance and willingness to use once available. Through in-depth semi-structured individual interviews with Black/African American and Latino sexual minority men we will qualitatively explore the impact of COVID-19 and shelter-in-place orders on access to care, resource security, well-being, and identify multilevel factors affecting COVID-19 vaccination acceptance and uptake. With the data from this study, we will leverage funding to develop intervention strategies that improves access to care and vaccination uptake.