Are Condoms and Shame Related for Gay and Bisexual Black Men?

Heather Boerner
Original Article:

Is internalized homophobia protective against HIV for gay and bisexual African-American men?

That’s the confusing question posed by a recent analysis of data from a multiethnic group of gay and bisexual men in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago. The paper, published in December in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, was a further parsing of the data from the Project MIX multisite behavioral intervention study conducted in 2005 and 2006, on 1,069 gay and bisexual men.

In the analysis, researchers found no association between measures of internalized homophobia and condomless anal sex among the group as a whole. But when they looked more closely at the race and ethnicity of the participants, a different story emerged: HIV-negative gay and bisexual black men were more likely to use condoms than their white or Latino counterparts. HIV-positive gay and bisexual men who had higher levels of internalized homophobia also were less likely to have condomless receptive anal sex.

"African American men with higher internalized homophobia are using condoms," said Gordon Mansergh, Ph.D., senior behavioral scientist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. "We didn’t know what to suspect [when we went in to this research] but we had no basis to suspect that."

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