STUDY: Young Black Gay Men Have A 1 in 4 Chance Of Contracting HIV

A new study of men who have sex with men puts a startling statistic on the face of the HIV/AIDS epidemic: black men who sleep with men have a 1 in 4 chance of contracting HIV, even though they represent only 1 in 500 Americans.

More distressingly, HIV rates among African-American MSM are actually on the rise, bucking the general trend in lower infection rates:

HIV represents a lifelong threat for Black gay men. A young Black gay man has a roughly 1-in-4 chance of being infected by age 25. By the time he is 40 years old, the odds a Black gay men will be living with HIV is roughly 60%. One can scour the entire world and struggle to find a population more heavily affected by HIV/AIDS than Black gay in the U.S.

Black gay men’s higher risk of HIV does not stem from higher levels of risk behavior. Rather, their disproportionate risk of HIV can be traced to their poor access to health services, a high prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, and early patterns of sexual behavior among young gay men.

The study Back of the Line: The State of AIDS Among Black Gay Men in America, was conducted by The Black AIDS Institute and released just prior to the International AIDS Society conference in Washington, DC, next week. It points a finger at both the government and the LGBT community for the state of affairs:

No one has responded to this health crisis with the urgency it warrants: Federal agencies don’t even track HIV resources focused on Black gay men, and state and local governments badly under-prioritize prevention and treatment services for Black gay men. Neither Black America nor the LGBT community has made the fight against AIDS among Black gay men a priority. And only a handful of private foundations remain engaged in the AIDS fight.

In addition to citing infection rates, the Institute’s study ranked 25 major cities to see which addressed the needs of HIV-positive black MSM most effectively. Washington, DC; Los Angeles; and New York hit the top of the list, while Gary, IN; Memphis; and Richmond, VA, were the three worst.

Recommendations included increasing access to testing, treatment and prevention services; reducing sexually transmitted diseases; introducing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEp) and building sustainable community infrastructure and the involvement of national leaders to make the fight against AIDS a priority.


Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #african-americancommunity #aids #blackaidsinstitute stories and more


  • Pedro

    Like moths to a flame, the racists will come…

  • Mark

    Over the last decade, infection rates have risen among gay men but they’ve fallen among intravenous drug users and heterosexuals. Most disturbingly, it’s risen the fastest among young gay men (and young gay black men in particular). How much longer can we blame stigma and discrimination and a lack of education? We know how to prevent HIV and discrimination and stigma are no worse (and are probably less of an issue) today than they were 10 years ago. We’re becoming complacent and that’s a huge problem.

  • darren

    just out of curiosity, why don’t asians have HIV as much as blacks? Is it because they only sleep with white or other asian guys? thus narrowing the exposure to AIDS? I think it also has to do with education levels and use of condoms.

  • daftpunkydavid

    quick note:

    “A new study of men who have sex with men puts a startling statistic on the face of the HIV/AIDS epidemic: black men who sleep with men have a 1 in 4 chance of contracting HIV, even though they represent only 1 in 500 Americans.”

    So icelanders should have a 100% chance of contracting HIV since they are 100% of Icelanders? Or black people overall account for 12% of the US population, so should they also have a 12% chance of contracting HIV?

    Your statement is misleading.

    What I think you wanted to say, is that of the new cases of seroconversion, black men who sleep with men are overrepresented: even though they represent 0.2% of the Americans, they account for 25% of new cases of seroconversion. Otherwise, your sentence does not make a lot of sense.

  • Chuck

    And I’m going to throw this out there. I know it says they don’t engage in more risk behavior, but monogamy would probably go a long ways to lowering that statistic.

    And testing every partner you’re going to be with before you decide to bareback. It’s easier to get them all tested if you don’t have hundreds of them.

  • daftpunkydavid

    this is alarming, and sad news overall. i hope people wake the fuck up.

  • Kim

    Anyone who has bareback sex is an idiot in my opinion , whether you are Black, White, Male,female…

  • RLS

    Hmmm. On one hand I’m glad we’re talking about HIV/AIDS but on the other hand it seems like we’re only talking about it when it comes to infections among black gay men. It may lead the more ignorant among us to think that other races are somehow immune to it or at lower risk, which isn’t quite true…

    Infections are rising among the gay community in general, and it’s important to address that, too…

  • bud

    blacks are more promiscuous and only sleep with other black people because they are discriminated against in the gay culture. So the AIDs gets passed around within the black community and ravages their systems

  • Dionte

    Just another reminder why I’ve been abstinent for the past 5 years and 8 months. Give or take a week.

  • the other Greg

    I never hear this mentioned as a factor, but I’m concerned that many young people who’ve had trouble finding jobs, have the INCORRECT impression that an HIV+ diagnosis by itself is an automatic pass to getting SSDI benefits.

    This is definitely NOT TRUE so if anyone believes that, they are in for a very unhappy shock.

  • jj

    This sadly does not surprise me at all. There are a lot of young dl black guys who screw around and dont use condoms. Just look at the ebony section of xtube, hardly any of the men in that category are using condoms. Also i do agree with the previous commenters that alot of black men only sleep with other black men which would increase the prevelance only in the black community.

  • Daniel Philippe

    I believe, in my opinion, that, not just gay black men, but, gay men in general, have a tendency of not using a condom, or they use the pull-out method. Gay men, in general, need to be aware of who they are having sex with and they need to know for sure that their partner is disease-free. The way to do this, is, when you are ready to be intimate with someone you love and care about, make sure you both get tested to know that you are both are being honest with each other.

    I am a white man, but, in my opinion, people in this article are pointing their fingers at coloured men when I feel that all men should take care of their sexual health and make it a priority. Especially gay men.

  • RLS

    @jj: Hmmm, so porn is a good indicator of sex practices? And I guess all those barebackers in Treasure Island flicks are what color exactly?

    The comments by the white guys on this thread who seem to think HIV isn’t something that happens to them are quite disturbing, but just go ahead and bareback with that other white guy. He couldn’t possibly have anything…

  • NYC Pozevent Polyglot

    I regularly attend poz events and just over half the guys there are always white. Somewhere like Chelsea has a 1in4 rate and that’s not very black. Then again white gay culture is not as d/l. It’s demographics. Inner cities have more testing facilities and blacks in the U.S are more concentrated in inner cities. Making it seem disproportionate. Consider 50% of those that have it don’t even know and the U.S rural areas don’t offer the same services. Our media is very geocentric to the affluent fire island type, Castro type.

  • Charlie

    Let’s remember that this is a problem for all of us not just gay guys of one race. We have to educate people about risks.

  • Colin

    @Mark: Exactly. Which is why all the syrupy apologetic b/s about AIDS and the gay community is ridiculous. The problem is and always has been gays and their sexual promiscuity, and a culture that encourages it.

    @daftpunkydavid: They won’t. It’s been 30 years and nothing has changed. It’s only gotten worse. And blacks are clearly leading the group, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.

  • phiggles

    I think it goes a lot deeper than simply suggesting that they be monogamous, or use condoms. Think about the black men who THINK they’re being monogamous (just like the white ones, the Hispanic ones, the Asian ones, etc) but they’re douchebag partners are stepping out on the side. Add to that a larger cultural context of homophobia, machismo, poverty, poor health literacy, etc and that maybe starts to get at the deeper-rooted problem.


    Read my big new gay novel!

  • Colin

    @phiggles: All of that is complete circumstantial b/s that would only account for a very small fraction of new HIV cases. What it comes down to is individual promiscuity. Period.

  • jack

    I am a black male that is sexually active with men of other cultures. I have experienced a number of asian men (chinese descent or similiar and indian descent) who prefer unprotected sex. Im aware of their frequent sexual encounters which increases the number of unprotected sexual partners. Im curious to know how black men constitute such a large number of newly infected. Are they simply the ones that get treatment thereby adding to the known cases of new infections? Is a private doctor mandated to share the information with the department of health? And with the focus of providing medication which translates into billions of dollars it makes sense there is no cure or thorough systems in place. Why address the real problem when you can just keep tracking funding reports and profit statements.

  • Ben

    In this day and age, it is really hard to give a rat’s ass about HIV infections when the answers are simple and easy to acquire. Yes, a monogamous person can acquire it from their partner, and yes it still occasionally slips through donated blood, and current prophylactics still aren’t perfect. Those people have my sympathy. People who knowingly play Russian roulette hold the same place in my heart as drunk drivers, and for the same reason.

    With information readily available and pelted into your head constantly, blaming lack of education and economic barriers for lack of a cheap solution that is available at every gas station and many bathrooms is nothing more than diverting attention from the real issue which is attitude.

    Also, Jack brings up a good point. How exactly were these numbers derived?

  • Daez

    @Kim: You do realize the way that babies are born is when a mommy gets drilled by a daddy and he creams inside of her right? Or did you think the stork brought them?

    Seriously, I think the big push towards never barebacking in the gay community (even if you have been with your lover for years and you know each others status) reeks of homophobia.

  • the other Greg

    @phiggles: “men who THINK they’re being monogamous… but they’re douchebag partners are stepping out on the side.” You’re 100% right, this is a HUGE problem and a major driver of new infections. Self-hating homophobes here can disagree all they want, with no particular knowledge. But anyone who volunteers in support groups will hear this story all the time, as will any social workers and doctors.

    There is still SOME old-fashioned promiscuity and drug abuse around, of course. But blaming everything on a gay “culture” of promiscuity in 2012 is ridiculous, and I wonder what planet such people are living on, since the culture since the ’80s has relentlessly glorified monogamy — sometimes to ill effect. Monogamy per se, with the wrong guy, without condoms, is not a good thing.

  • Colin

    @the other Greg: You are completely out of touch and in denial on this issue. Sorry. That’s just reality. I’ll leave it at that.

  • Charlie

    Just for a bit of perspective – haven’t studies shown that the average for all guys hooking up is 1 in 5?

  • jack

    @the other Greg: You’ve shared two good points. I worked for a health services agency. Some younger gay men were under the assumption that becoming infected allowed them to receive hiv public assitance or ssd benefits. They didn’t know HIV needed to be accompanied with other opportunistic ailments or infections. Shock is an understatement when you’ve intentionally become infected
    and it’s as great as thought. Also having facilitated a number of support groups it is a belief that monogamy avoids concerns of becoming infected by the virus. They didn’t use condoms after receiving negative test results. The members shared stories of mistrust, frustration and hatred toward the cheating partner after becoming infected. And it’s an obvious belief system among heterosexual women and older women as they are becoming infected by STDs and the virus.

  • the other Greg

    @Colin: And you know this based on what? My bf and I have heard what we’ve heard based on hundreds of interviews and talk groups. Admittedly anecdotal, but on a large scale, and hardly “out of touch.”

  • Colin

    @the other Greg: And based on these isolated instances, you are able to say, absolutely, that “this is a HUGE problem and a major driver of new infections.” Really?

    And then this: “There is still SOME old-fashioned promiscuity and drug abuse around, of course.” And then, of course, this: “Monogamy per se, with the wrong guy, without condoms, is not a good thing.”

    I’m sorry but this is clearly something you haven’t studied in-depth. To make claims like those above is simply and utterly false and misleading. You can start with CDC reports and statistics and then examine trends from there.

  • Analog

    STUDY: Young black men 98% more likely to be pre-judged by the color of their skin… still.

  • RLS

    I’m a black top guy who generally doesn’t have a racial preference, but tends to hook up with more white and Asian guys. I’m always, ALWAYS the one with the condom, and in fact I’ve been turned down by white guys because I *don’t* bareback. I think this idea that only blacks engage in unsafe sex is kind of overblown. I honestly believe it’s a generational thing.

  • the other Greg

    @Colin: Hundreds are not “isolated” instances. I read CDC reports and statistics all the time. They don’t address relationships much, such as whether, for instance, someone THOUGHT their boyfriend was monogamous but really was not. Gee, you must have a subscription to some really steamy, romance-novel-style CDC reports.

    “The problem is and always has been gays and their [!!!] sexual promiscuity…” Yeah, that’s real helpful. Hit those damn gays with a stick and tell “them” to stop having so much sexual promiscuity. Unless you are a straight troll (in which case, why are you here?), your self-hating homophobic statements tell us where you’re coming from.

    I hope we agree on the importance of condoms?

  • Colin

    @Analog: And thank God for that.

    @the other Greg: We agree on the importance of condoms. But we do not agree that hundreds count for the majority of these cases or that these people are telling the truth in the first place. In any case, infidelity is just another example of promiscuity. The root cause is sex. And yet you somehow make a leap and say that that’s “self-hating and homophobic.” That makes no sense.

  • the other Greg

    @Colin: “The root cause is sex.” !!!!! – No, the root cause is unprotected sex. But I’m glad you’re apparently celibate. I was afraid you had a “boyfriend” locked up in a cage somewhere!

    @jack: Thanks for your comment (which I’d overlooked) – yeah, I kind of suspected that happened sometimes, but I wasn’t sure.

  • Colin

    @the other Greg: LOL. I like you so I’m not going to fight :P.

  • Analog

    @Colin: “And thank God for that.”

    Indeed: when people reveal their racial prejudice it’s a good indicator that they’re… well, a bit thick and probably best avoided.
    For instance, I wouldn’t base my judgement of your character on your appearance alone.
    But when you start talking about your views on black people – and, let’s face it, that’s ALL you talk about on here – I judge you as being both racially prejudiced and obsessively so.
    The simple-minded type, prone to racial prejudice or homophobia can never seem to think that far, though.
    It’s a curious type – I think it comes out of a kind of terror of the world and its complexity, and their need to over-simplify everything to compensate.
    Good luck with that…

  • Oh well

    Spare us the Concerned Women for Jesus type morality. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with promiscuity as long as you’re not hurting anyone or yourself (which includes practicing safe sex with people of unknown status).

    Do you also disapprove of straight long-tern or married couples barebacking? If not, then this “moral” disapproval of gay men barebacking is indeed homophobic.

  • Colin

    @Oh well: “There is nothing intrinsically wrong with promiscuity as long as you’re not hurting anyone or yourself (which includes practicing safe sex with people of unknown status).”

    In other words, let AIDS and other STDs and STIs continue. Got it.

  • bystander

    So much judgement on this board. Why can’t people just make the best decisions for themselves and let others do the same.

  • UsualPlayers

    @Charlie: I believe that’s correct, but I can only find this

    “Among all MSM, white MSM accounted for 11,400 (39%) new HIV infections in 2009. The largest number of new infections (3,400) occurred in those aged 40–49.”

    Unfortunately what’s a serious issue for all the community, blacks especially given the data, is turned into a black versus white thing.

    The reality of course is that these numbers are bad for all racial groups.

  • UsualPlayers

    by the way, agree with comments about monogamy

    The reality is that the more sexual partners you have- just a matter of statistical analysis, the more at risk of spreading the disease

    Vectors (diseases) do not really care about political agendas like arguing “gay men just all got have sex” that are left over from the 70s

    While its funny to want to sleep around and bareback, its also dangerous. that’s not judgement. Its matter of simple epidemology.

  • Danny

    Perhaps it is just an extension of the suicidal tendencies felt by a group that has its human rights put up for a vote by corrupt politicians and religious leaders, who should be punished for committing genocide against gay people. America’s response to HIV/AIDS wasn’t to protect human rights and demand gay people get married to each other to promote monogamy – it was the opposite, America started mass violating human rights lead by objectively evil politicians and religious leaders.

  • UsualPlayers

    @Danny: (1) Some of it probably comes from that (2) Some of it probably comes from the fact wild sex with out rules feels better. I have had it, but looking back, I was lucky because it was dangerous, and now that I have a future that I want to see, I am not willing to let a half hour of fun get in the way of that. The truth is that no one can really change the external shit. The only control we have is over ourselves. So, that’s really what we got to hopefully one day get through to gay men who are being assaulted by society.

  • hassia

    Why do you still Have these racist commenting on this board?

  • anthony

    I find it disgusting that Queerty a gay website see nothing wrong with having a vile individual like Colin Spewing his hate, like zyklon b in the 30’s. He has nothing to add to the betterment of mankind just bile. Strange we work so hard to get the acceptance of the mainstream yet we allow bigots to go without recourse in our midst. This website is a clear indicator that if you are not white best go some place else, hence Colin and all of his alter ego’s.Shame really. Time to cancel this website from my bookmarks.

  • the other Greg

    @anthony: Please stay and feel free to use the Flag button, to which Queerty responds pretty quickly. He may have been flagged in this thread (?) since it seemed very strange that, on an article with a racial angle, he has so few rac**t comments – flagged before I saw them? – and just went into this weird Church Lady anti-sex mode.

  • Kim

    @Daez: Where I live barebacking refers to anal not oral or vaginal sex

  • Tackle

    Here we go again with blatant lies from the CDC about blacks and AIDS. The CDC never stops. First off some correction. This is NOT a study done by the Black AIDS institute. The Black AIDS institute does NOT conduct studies. Rather they are a mouth peice of the CDC. Their propaganda lies and all. Don’t be fooled because the director is black. Some people will go along with anything as long as their getting paid. When I researched sources for this study, I found that it’s nothing more than recycled old garbage. Taken from other so-called studies. Some done five yrs ago and repeated as some alarming new find. They do not site the number of black, white hispanic or other men used in the study. If the did, it will show the CDC for the liers they really are. The CDC arrives at these numbers by statistical slight of hand. Blacks are ALWAYS oversampled. In one study this same thing was done to black women. Where something like 275 black women were used and only around 38 white women. And it was loudly & proudley declared (again) about the high rate of HIV/AIDS among black women. It’s a shame that no one questions the CDC or anything they put out. People are so quick and gullible to believe everything the CDC says. I’m not here to vilife any group: but I dod find it strange that if HIV/AIDS started off affecting mainly gay white and bisexual men: and considering that most white gay and bisexual men will most times have sex with each other, and considering that black gay and bisexual men are no more sexually active there white counterparts. Not more likely to do drugs or engage in risky sexual behavior then anyone else,it dosen’t take a rocket scientest to see how they get these numbers.

  • Colin

    @anthony: “This website is a clear indicator that if you are not white best go some place else”

    LOL. Don’t let the door hit ya then, mmmmkay?

  • RLS

    Tackle that’s such a good point about the CDC. I’m reading “And the Band Played On” right now (A chronicle of the early days of AIDS for anyone who doesn’t know), and the lack of action by the CDC in the very beginning because it was a “gay plague” was one of the main reasons why the epidemic was allowed to get to the point it is now. The disease was stigmatized as just something that happened to gay men, the “undesirables” so it was not dealt with effectively.

    Now we have the same thing happening as the disease skyrockets in the Black community. There is a very real epidemic in the black community, but you know what? It continues to be an epidemic in the gay community, too. We still make up 57% of all new infections. If you think that these are all blacks, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

    One of these studies comes out every once in a while, and when you look a little closer at the numbers and sample sizes, something always seems a bit off. I would hate for the same thing to happen to young black gay males as what happened to gays in general back when this thing started: namely stigmatization and public apathy because of the “undesirable” group the problem is exacerbated in.

  • brad

    @Dionte – you’re my hero! <3

  • DrewSF

    This has nothing to do with monogamy/promiscuity/etc. but everything to do with people not using condoms and having bareback sex.

    That being said I have GBM friends who are HIV- but they use condoms and have safer sex; but they know other GBM who do not at all.

    Also I know A LOT of GWM who do not use condoms or have safer sex at all and I won’t be surprised if they are HIV+.

    I agree with Tackle, it does seem as though the CDC is making things up.

  • GBM

    Also I have noticed a tendency for the CDC and other groups to blame black men for HIV infection to women, or they’ll claim that as bisexual and gay black men we are mostly ALL on the DL when that’s not true. Someone’s status if they’re out or not has nothing to do if they are HIV+ or not, what really matters is if they are using condoms and having safer sex.

    I am not on the DL and I know people who are on the DL or they’re more what you’d call discrete and they practice safer sex, and use condoms.

    Meanwhile I meet many white gay men who want me to have bareback sex with them and that does not happen. I have also met a lot more white gay men who are closeted/DL.

  • B

    It’s odd that nobody seems to have bothered to read the report that Queerty provided a link to. Here is a short quote:

    Rather, there appear to be several
    key reasons why Black MSM are so
    much more heavily affected by HIV
    than other populations:
    * Diminished health care access
    and health service utilization among
    Black MSM, reflected in late diagnosis
    of HIV, sub-optimal receipt of life-
    prolonging and prevention-promoting
    antiretroviral treatment, and poorer
    prognosis among those who are living
    with HIV.
    * High background prevalence
    of other sexually transmitted diseases,
    which increase by several orders of
    magnitude the likelihood that HIV
    will be transmitted or acquired during
    sexual intercourse.
    * Sexual behavior patterns
    among young Black MSM, including
    early sexual debut and greater odds
    of having older (in some cases, even
    modestly older) sex partners, and
    * A syndemic among Black MSM
    involving poverty, unemployment,
    violence, homelessness, experience
    of childhood sexual abuse or other
    trauma, experience of hostile home
    environments and associated
    disruption in education, and
    disproportionate risk of incarceration.

  • Peter

    I have chosen to be abstinent until I meet that special someone. I haven’t had sex in 5 years. I am disease free, see a doctor regularly, and I take good care of my physical health.

    When I did have sex in the past (2007 and prior), I was a top and my (mostly) white partners ALWAYS wanted me to perform unprotected anal sex on them. White men tell me that I have a gorgeous body and a great looking you-know-what between my legs. At first they are usually modest, but after they’ve had a few drinks they’re willing to let me do almost anything to them, especially barebacking.

    I have NEVER had a white partner furnish me with condoms when I penetrated him. Most of my white sex partners were average, middle class 30-45 yr old men, mature enough to have known better than to have unprotected sex. Lucky for them I am not HIV positive, but in the heat of passion they didn’t seem to care, one way or the other. One even denied having anal sex with me when I brought it up in conversation the following week.

    I can’t speak for other gay black men, but in MY world, I have to be careful around handsome gay WHITE men, The onus is on ME to be the responsible one. One white guy told me to penetrate him, but not ejaculate inside of him. How stupid is that? These folks were undoubtedly educated about safer sex. Problem was, they didn’t respect themselves enough to use protection. HIV is an opportunistic disease that will infect anyone dumb enough to get fucked without a condom, regardless of their race, accessibility to healthcare, or any of the other bullshit statistics listed in the above article.

    How can you say I have a 1 in 4 chance of contracting HIV? How could you possibly know that? How can you analyze my sex life with statistics and charts? You can’t. In the end, it all comes down to using a condom or not using a condom. That’s all there is to it.

Comments are closed.