Loneliness and Frailty Among Middle-Aged and Aging Sexual Minority Men Living With or Without HIV: A Longitudinal Cross-Lagged Panel Analysis

Paula Meireles, Deanna Ware, Ana Henriques, Karen Nieves-Lugo, Valentina Stosor, Mark Brennan-Ing, Steven Meanley, Sabina Haberlen, Chukwuemeka N. Okafor, Steve Shoptaw, M. Reuel Friedman, Michael Plankey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Objectives: Loneliness is associated with frailty among older adults (60+), and there is evidence suggesting that this association may be bidirectional. However, there is limited evidence of this relationship over time among middle-aged and aging sexual minority men. We explored the bidirectional relationship between loneliness and frailty over 2 years among sexual minority men living with or without human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from the Healthy Aging substudy of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study. Research Design and Methods: We used data from 1 118 men (561 living with HIV; 557 living without HIV) aged 40 years or older with measurement of frailty or loneliness at Times 1 (September 2016 to March 2017) and 2 (September 2018 to March 2019). Descriptive statistics were generated. We used autoregressive cross-lagged panel analysis to examine the bidirectional association between frailty and loneliness at both time points while adjusting for time-stable and time-dependent covariates at Time 1. Adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were generated. Results: The estimated prevalence of loneliness at both time points was 35.5%. The estimated prevalence of frailty at Times 1 and 2 were 7.8% and 12.1%, respectively. Participants reporting loneliness at Time 1 had greater odds of being frail at Time 2 (aOR = 2.14; 95% CI: 1.23-3.73). Frailty at Time 1 was not associated with loneliness at Time 2 (aOR = 1.00; 95% CI: .44-2.25). The autoregressive effects of frailty (aOR = 23.43; 95% CI: 11.94-46) and loneliness (aOR = 13.94; 95% CI: 9.42-20.61) were large. Discussion and Implications: Men who felt lonely had higher odds of being frail 2 years later while the reciprocal association was not shown. This suggests that loneliness preceded frailty and not the other way around. Early and frequent assessments of loneliness may present opportunities for interventions that minimize the risk of frailty among sexual minority men living with and without HIV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberigad113
JournalInnovation in Aging
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Frailty
  • Loneliness
  • Multicenter AIDS cohort study
  • Sexual minority men
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)


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