HIV Infections in NYC Three Times National Rate
4800 people, most of them men who had sex with men (MSM) contracted HIV in NYC in 2006. NYC is considered the epicenter of the HIV epidemic, with 100,000 people living with the illness. Black and Latino men in their 30's and 40's have the highest incidence of new infections.
There is discordance among men who self-identify as "straight" men while engaging in same sex activity. A lot of hype and fear has been generated around MSM who are bisexual and secretive about their sexual activities with other men (downlow or DL). A 2006 study however contradicts these myths. While it may make for good YouTube videos and headlines, the prevalence of bisexual black males is estimated to be 2% in the US, while for the general male population, it is estimated to be close to 10%. One in ten self-identifying "straight" males have at least one sexual encounter with another male in a year. While it is true that bisexual black males prefer not to disclose their MSM activities, they do not tend to engage in unprotected sex with multiple partners. The authors found that use of condoms by black heterosexual couples was low and suggest that the increased incidence of HIV in black women was due to high risk sexual activity.
One of the issues that may be being ignored by health professionals is that homosexual males are at increased risk for suicide and suicide attempts, especially youth. That's right - homosexuality is a risk factor for suicide. Studies indicate that 30% to 50% of teenage suicides are bisexual or gay and of course the majority are male. Males face ostracism and loss of social support for disclosure of homosexual behavior. Clearly self-conflict triggers substance abuse and feelings of hopelessness may be leading to risky sexual behaviors. Young black males who engage in sex with other males report high overall stress levels, anxiety about their sexuality and masculinity, feelings of sexual shame and feelings of isolation and loneliness. Substance abuse and cultural expectations of not living beyond the age of 25 years may be contributing to recklessness in many aspects of their lives.
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