Study undermines belief that ‘down low’ men feed HIV Being closeted doesn’t equate to risky sex, researchers say By RYAN LEE | Jul 27, 5:06 PM
Closeted black bisexual men — popularly dubbed "men on the down low" and tagged with fueling rising HIV rates among heterosexual black females — are not as careless with practicing safer sex as was often portrayed in media reports, according to research published in the July issue of the Journal of the National Medical Association.
"The role of bisexually active black men in HIV transmission is a more complex issue than depictions of black men on the down-low as sexual predators and black women as uninformed victims," wrote the team of researchers from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and Emory University.
With no research data yet complete on the down low, and scarce data about black bisexuality in general, researchers culled through 24 years of studies on black sexuality, homosexuality and HIV/AIDS dating back to 1980, said David Malebranche, assistant professor of medicine at the Emory School of Medicine.
Malebranche and the other researchers hoped to discern answers to fundamental questions overlooked by the media and other studies: the actual size of the black male bisexual population; the difference between sexual identity and sexual behavior; rates of disclosure among black gay and bisexual men; and whether men who didn’t disclose their sexual orientation were more likely to engage in high risk sex.
Researchers found that only an estimated 2 percent of all black men are bisexual, contradicting the popular notion of men on the down low serving as a bridge for HIV to cross over from gay men to black heterosexual women, who make up 68 percent of all new female HIV cases.
"If it’s only 2 or 3 percent of the black male population, how can they possibly be accounting for all of these HIV infections?" Malebranche said.
Public health experts have assumed that closeted black bisexual men endure internalized homophobia that leads them to participate in risky sexual behavior, he said.
"But one of the major findings — and this was across all races and ethnicities — is the who were the disclosers, or out of the closet, these were the guys more likely to be HIV-positive, and more likely to engage in unprotected sex," Malebranche said.
Look for complete coverage of this story in Friday's print and online edition.
"people on here just be like " go for it man! its sex! god forbid you turn down SEX! *dances around the baal statue*" -- Stephbit