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Why men-with-men sex means higher HIV rate

May 3, 2011 at 12:50 AM   |   Comments

BOSTON, May 3 (UPI) -- The beliefs about masculinity held by men who have sex with men may affect their ability to protect themselves against HIV, U.S. researchers suggest.

Lead author Dr. Errol L. Fields, a pediatric resident at Children's Hospital Boston and Boston Medical Center, says young black males who have sex with men have twice the number of new HIV infections as young Hispanic and white men who have male partners. Young black males who have sex with males are five times more likely to be HIV-infected than white males of similar ages, Fields says.

"We interviewed young black men to hear the stories behind these statistics," Fields says in a statement.

Thirty-five black males ages 18-24 years in New York City, upstate New York and Atlanta took part in semi-structured interviews.

Most of the men interviewed said they preferred to partner with men they perceived as masculine and they allowed partners who were more masculine to control what sexual activity they engaged in and whether they used condoms, Fields says.

"We found that their beliefs about masculinity may affect their ability to protect themselves against HIV," Fields says. "For example, many believed that men who acted more feminine were at greater risk for HIV than men who acted more masculine."

The findings were presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Denver.

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