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Ecological barriers to HIV service access among young men who have sex with men and high-risk young women from low-resourced urban communities

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Using an ecological perspective, we sought to elucidate the perceived barriers preventing HIV service access among two groups of U.S. youth (ages 12-24) disproportionately affected by HIV, men who have sex with men and high-risk women. We content analyzed interviews with 318 key informants to identify distinct service barriers. The 29 barriers informants named were organized into six categories (service-seeking demands, stigmas, knowledge and awareness, service quality, powerful opposition, and negative emotions). Findings suggest that barriers impacting access to HIV prevention, testing, and linkage-to-care services are remarkably similar and point to the need for comprehensive approaches to improving youth's access services that address both individual-level barriers and extra-individual barriers simultaneously. Findings can be used to guide future research, programming and interventions to reduce the disproportionate spread of HIV among US youth.

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