Non-gay identified (NGI) Black men who have sex with both men and women (MSMW) and who use substances are at risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV to their partners. Homophobic community norms can discourage such men from disclosing their risk behaviour to female partners and others, including service providers. It is important to understand the dynamics of risk in this vulnerable population, but research is challenged by the men’s need for secrecy. In this paper we report on successful efforts to recruit 33 non-disclosing, NGI Black MSMW for in-depth interviews concerning substance use, HIV risk and attitudes toward disclosing their risk behaviour. We employed targeted and referral sampling, with initial contacts and/or key informants drawn from several types of settings in New York City, including known gay venues, community organisations, neighbourhood networks and the Internet. Key informant gatekeepers and the ability to establish rapport proved central to success. Perceived stigma is a source of social isolation, but men are willing to discuss their risk behaviour when they trust interviewers to protect their privacy and engage with them in a non-judgemental manner. Findings imply that the most effective prevention approaches for this population may be those that target risk behaviours without focusing on disclosure of sexual identities.
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