Focusing “Down Low”: Bisexual Black Men, HIV Risk and Heterosexual Transmission

1 Nov
2009

Down Low

INTRODUCTION
Black men “on the down-low” have gained considerable attention from both mainstream media and public health officials over the past few years as climbing rates of HIV infection (еreating HIV infection when used along with other medicines) among black women have come under increasing focus. Several nuances of the term “down-low” have been in use in the African-American community since the early 1990s. However, it was not until the release of statistics citing high HIV (еreating HIV infection when used in combination with other medicines) incidence among black MSM and the fact that a significant proportion of black MSM identify as heterosexual that the term in the popular media became synonymous with heterosexually identified men who have sex with other men without the knowledge of their main female sex partners.

In 2002, the leading cause of HIV infection (treating HIV infection) for both black men and women was sex with a man. Few studies of MSM recruit sufficient samples of men of color or collect information on bisexual activity to properly evaluate the level of risk that bisexual men pose to women in minority communities. Furthermore, not all bisexual men are on the down-low. Black men of varying sexual identities identify with the term.

The aim of this paper is to examine the scientific literature relevant to black men on the down-low, defined as bisexually active, nongay-identified men who do not disclose their homosexual activities to their families, friends or female partners. The following topics were examined:
1) prevalence of bisexuality among black men,
2) agreement between heterosexual identity and behavior,
3) nondisclosure of homosexual behavior or bisexual identity, and
4) HIV risk and nondisclosure of homosexual behavior or bisexual identity.

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