Young black men who have sex with men (MSM) get infected with HIV nearly five times more often than MSM from other races, even though their reported use of condoms is similar to males of other racial and ethnic backgrounds, warns a new study.
The study found that young black MSM — a group that includes openly gay and bisexual men, as well as those who have sex with men but do not identify themselves as gay or bisexual — select partners and judge these partners” HIV status in a specific way.
These men show a clear preference for masculine men, while also equating masculinity with lower HIV risk. This dynamic, the researchers say, can help explain why young black MSM contract HIV more often than their counterparts from other races.
The results are based on interviews with 35 black men ages 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.
The findings offer new insight into how black MSM judge risk based on perceptions of masculinity and can help inform public health campaigns to reduce new HIV infections in this disproportionately affected group.