“Brother to Brother”: an interrogation of HIV prevalence among young black MSM in Boston
Harvard University, Master of Liberal Arts Program, Cambridge, United States
Issues: Childhood development, racism, discrimination, stigma, masculinity, adolescence, sexual relationships, HIV testing, medical establishment experiences, sucess and failures of current prevention methods, sexual identity, racial identity
Description: This is a qualitative study looking at the psychosocial, sociocultural, and historiographical reasons for the HIV prevalence among young Black MSM living in Boston. The greater Boston area offers a different cultural experience than other major metropolitan areas in the United States; this study queries how these differences have then influenced sexual behavior and sexual risk taking amongst young Black MSM ages 18-29. Qualitative factors such as racial identity, sexual identity, human development, level of education, socioeconomic status, religion, masculinity, self-concept, and self-esteem are all considered as adding value to truly understanding this epidemic. Participants were recruited via snowball method and online dating sites. Each participant is taken through a series of questions, written to take no more than an hour. Participants were not compensated, but received a resource list of opportunities for Black MSM in the Boston area.
Lessons learned: Numerous themes have come out of the research thus far. Emerging factors affecting sexual risk taking are lack of identification with the gay culture, dislike for condoms, educational attainment, and lack of access to prevention methods. Participants expressed candidly their experiences of racism and discrimination, it’s prevalence in Boston, and how this has affected their self development.
Next steps: Moving forward, the results of this research will not only inform community based organizations on the needs of young Black MSM, but also contribute to the body of knowledge surrounding HIV prevention and intervention for Black MSM and other young populations disproportionately affected by the epidemic.