World AIDS Day

By Keith Boykin, in sexuality
Friday, December 1 2006, 8:55AM

Debunking Myths About Black Men

Watch video on black men

Today is World AIDS Day. That’s the one day each year when we are all supposed to come together and appreciate the impact of the AIDS epidemic and rededicate ourselves to stopping it. Been there, done that. It’s still a good idea, but it’s not enough.

We can’t stop the AIDS epidemic until we stop the lies that fuel the epidemic. That’s why today I’m featuring the video (above) about black men. (Just click on the image to see the video.) It deconstructs some of the most popular myths about black men in America. One of those myths — that there are more black men in prison than in college — was actually repeated last year by the President of Harvard University. Is it any wonder, then, that so many others buy into the myths?

Another popular myth is that black men on the down low are responsible for the AIDS epidemic. The video discounts that assumption, and now new research by the CDC’s Dr. Greg Millett helps to disprove this theory. The research, reported in this week’s Gay City News, indicates that men on the down low are not the cause of the AIDS epidemic in black America.

New Research on Black Men and HIV

“Among the dozen explanations studied, three leading theories were ruled out by Millett’s work. Significantly, the assumption of higher risk behavior among black MSM-as measured by unprotected anal intercourse, total number of sex partners, and commercial sex work-was not found to explain the differential in infection rates relative to non-black gay and bi men. This conclusion was based on a review of more than 25 separate studies,” GCN reported.

Also important, self-identity does not determine risk for HIV. “Black [men who have sex with men] who don’t disclose their sexual behavior compared to black MSM who do disclose their sexual behavior are less likely to be HIV-positive, they’re less likely to engage in unprotected sex with more than five male partners lifetime, and they engage in less unprotected sex generally,” according to Millett.

Millett’s work was co-authored by John L. Peterson, Ph.D., Richard J. Wolitski, Ph. D., and Ron Stall, MPH, and published in the American Journal of Public Health.

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