From The Grio — Young black men who have sex with other men are nearly five times more likely to be infected with HIV than men of other races with similar sexual interests.
Finding an explanation for the discrepancy has longed stupefied researches. Now in a study entitled “Young Black Males’ Conflict between Masculinity and Homosexuality: Implications forHIV Risk,” a group of John Hopkins investigators have introduced findings that suggests an adherence to traditional gender roles may play a part in this ongoing problem.
The study found that many young black MSM — men who sleep with other men and identify themselves as gay or bisexual and those that do but avoid such titles — tend to select partners and rate their HIV risk factors based on their levels of masculinity.
The men interviewed showed an obvious preference for partners who appeared to be “masculine” under the belief that effeminate men pose greater risk for contracting HIV. Because of this, researches say this may shed light on why young black men who have sex with other men are contracting HIV more often than their racial counterparts.
Jonathan Ellen, a pediatrician and teen health expert at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, said, “There may be no difference in HIV prevalence between masculine- 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.”
This reported overall preference results in the acceptance of their more masculine partners as dominant in sexual acts — leaving them to make the decision about condom usage.
Their findings are based on interviews with 35 black men ages 18 to 24 who have sex with men in NYC, upstate New York, and Atlanta, GA.