Bisexual men need to be on alert when it comes to their health. According to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, men who have sex with men and women represent a population with unique public health concerns.
Though HIV prevalence among bisexual males (in medical terms, MSMW, or “Men Who Have Sex with Men and Women”) is lower than in homosexual men, this population is more likely than heterosexuals to contract HIV. They are less likely than homosexual males to be tested for HIV. Of bisexual men, the report says that 21% of them reported STI treatment in the past year, compared to 12% of gay men and 2.3% of heterosexuals.
“MSMW’s increased likelihood of insertive sex without a condom, as well as commonly occurring oral sex with men and women, likely increase MSMW’s vulnerability to STIs readily acquired via penile-insertive and oral sex,” said William L. Jeffries IV, PhD, an author.
Bisexuals prone to negative effects
Unprotected sex, forced encounters, a high number of partners, early sexual experiences, and attitudes towards pregnancy are all factors that can have negative effects on bisexual males. Then there are social aspects such as masculinity norms, economic issues, and societal problems such as biphobia.
“Biphobia can manifest in erroneous beliefs that MSMW are gay men who have not disclosed their sexual orientation and, particularly for black men, [are] responsible for HIV transmission to women,” Jeffries said. “Experiencing these sentiments can contribute to MSMW’s social isolation and psychological distress, which in turn may promote HIV/STI risk through substance use, sexual risk behaviors, and the avoidance of prevention services.”
Jeffries said his research draws attention to an underserved and understudied population.
“Sexual health promotion for MSMW should not be limited to HIV/STI prevention alone,” Jeffries said. “Recognition of MSMW’s unique sexual and social experiences can lay the foundation necessary for ensuring that these men have healthy and fulfilling sexual experiences.”
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