3 May 2011
Macho partners revealed as reason for higher HIV risk in black gay men
by George Atkinson
Researchers think they now know why young black gay men are at a 5-times greater risk of getting infected with HIV. The new study, by researchers at Johns Hopkins, found that young black men who have sex with men (MSM - a group that includes gay and bisexual men as well as those who have sex with men but do not identify themselves as gay or bisexual) judge their partners' HIV status in a specific way.
The researchers say these men show a clear preference for masculine men, while also equating masculinity with lower HIV risk. This dynamic, the study suggests, can explain why young black MSM contract HIV more often than their counterparts from other races.
The results, presented at the Annual Meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, are based on interviews with black men aged 18 to 24 who have sex with men. The most notable findings include an overwhelming preference for masculine partners, accepting masculine partners as dominant in the sex act and leaving to them decisions about condom use, perceiving masculine men as low risk for HIV and feminine men as high risk.
"There may be no difference in HIV prevalence between masculine-looking and feminine-looking men, but because black MSM perceive masculine men as lower risk, their sexual encounters with such men may make HIV infection more likely," summarized investigator Jonathan Ellen, from Johns Hopkins Children's Center.
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Source: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions