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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 27 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 26
Bisexual men 'at most risk' of HIV infection, CDC says
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Bisexual men 'at most risk' of HIV infection, CDC says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

According to a new study by the federal CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Bisexual men are 'disproportionally affected' by STDs and are 'at most risk' of HIV infection.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that the public health needs of Bi men often go unmet, leaving them vulnerable to STDs.

Only 2% of sexually active men report having sex with both men and women, but 21% of Bi men report STD treatment, compared to 12% for Gay men and 2.3% of straight men.

Men who have sex with men and women (MSMW) were also less likely to be screened for HIV than men who exclusively have sex with men (MSM), which could lead to undiagnosed HIV and therefore unknowing transmission.

The study says that although the HIV infection rate is lower for Bi men than Gay men, Bi men are at greater risk because of the lack of regular screening.

According to study author William Jeffries, Bisexual men are often on the 'down low' - in relationships with women, but having sex with men on the side.

Other factors that may affect their sexual health include sex without condoms, forced sexual encounters, an increased number of sexual partners, and attitudes toward pregnancy.

'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,' Jefferies explained.

'Moreover, receptive and insertive sex without a condom with men (no matter how common) makes MSMW more vulnerable to HIV than men who only have sex with women because HIV is more prevalent among men than women in the United States.'

Jeffries also believes MSMW face 'several socio-cultural obstacles' including '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,' he 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 suggested that sexual health programs should do more to target Bi men, instead of running hetero-normative and Gay-exclusive campaigns.

'Sexual health promotion for MSMW should not be limited to HIV/STI prevention alone,' he concluded.

'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.

'Purposefully designed and tailored efforts for MSMW are indispensable for improving the sexual health of this vulnerable population.'

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