Over the past few days, we have reported tons of information on black gay men and HIV. With rates steadily increasing, the discussion about sexual behavior has to happen. Despite the saddening statistics presented, researchers at San Francisco State University released information from a study titled “You and Me.”
Presented at the 19th International AIDS Conference, researchers indicated that black gay male couples tend to use condoms regularly. The study also found out that although white gay male couples talk about safer sex, they are less likely to use condom usage.
The study reports:
Researchers found that black couples were more likely use condoms regardless of HIV status. Black couples reported that practicing safe sex was the product of unspoken agreements where it was “just understood” that condom use was non-negotiable…
Most white couples, regardless of HIV status, did not use condoms. Many white couples came to that decision by discussing the risks and benefits of unprotected sex with each other. Interracial couples (black and white partners) were divided between using condoms and not using condoms.
White and interracial couples that included partners with a different HIV status reported that a major factor in their decision not to use condoms was the health of the HIV positive partner.
Many white and interracial couples believed that if the HIV positive partner has a low viral load and is taking HIV medication, the risk of HIV transmission is lower. The findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that some gay couples are abandoning condom use in response to beliefs about advances in HIV treatment and testing.
“When some individuals get tested and hear that they have a lower viral load, they might interpret that decreased risk as no risk and hence use no protection,” said Colleen Hoff, professor of sexuality studies at SF State.. “It’s a calculated risk that they are taking.”
Although the amounts of infections continue to plague our community, the study explored the relationship dynamics between male partners in black, white and interracial couples. Looking for something positive might just be beyond the dismal information.
“We found that black and white gay men process the information they receive about HIV in different ways,” said SF State researcher Chad Campbell. “And for black men, using condoms is the default choice. The black gay men we surveyed were aware of the high rates of HIV among their demographic and were taking steps to ensure they don’t become another statistic.”