Q&A: Errol Fields on Young Black Gay Men and Perceptions of HIV Risk

Published: May 11, 2011

Last week, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health released the results to a recent study about young black gay men and its findings are interesting.

By interviewing 35 young black gay men, ages 18-24, in Rochester, N.Y., Atlanta and New York City, researchers found that the participants almost exclusively prefer romantic and sexual partners they perceive to be masculine; are reluctant to allow a man they consider to be feminine to "top" them during sex; allow men they perceive to be more masculine to control the terms of what kind of sex happens, including condom use; and consider masculine men to be less likely to have HIV, and feminine men to be more at risk.

Given the alarming rise in rates of HIV among young black MSM, these findings could potentially shed some light on what is fueling these numbers. Because this study had such a small number of participants, it wasn’t meant to be prescriptive of the entire demographic, yet some media reports have taken these findings and made sweeping generalizations about all young black MSM.

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