CDC: 'Down Low' Men Not Responsible for High HIV Rates Among Black Women
crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters
To paraphrase Don Cornelius, the former host of Soul Train, “I'll bet my last money” that this doesn't get as much attention as it should:
Heterosexual black men with multiple sex partners – not bisexual men who secretly have sex with men – are responsible for high rates of HIV among black women, according to a senior CDC official. “We have looked to see what proportion of infections is coming from male partners who are bisexual and found there are actually relatively few,” said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.
“More are male partners who are having female partners and are injecting drugs or using drugs or have some other risks that may put those female partners at risk of acquiring HIV.” Black women make up 61 percent of all new HIV cases among women in the United States and have an HIV prevalence rate nearly 18 times that of white women. HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death for black women ages 25-34, and 80 percent of new cases are contracted through heterosexual contact. “What we’re seeing is a concentration of the epidemic among the poor, among ethnic minorities and racial minorities in the United States,” Fenton said.
I don't know how to characterize this. I certainly can't call it “good news” for obvious reasons – people are still catching HIV/AIDS. And I'm guessing that folks are going to either ignore this information or engage in arguments that will go off on tangents far from its main point.
Some in the lgbt community will use this situation to unconsciously drive that wedge between the lgbt and African-American communities by misusing their righteous indignation. The point of the above piece is not whether blacks are more homophobic or not. The point is that some people are ignorant in terms of why HIV/AIDS is spreading in the black community. However no one should forget that many of the victims in the black community are young black men who have been isolated from society period, whether that society be the black community or lgbt community.
Instead of useless, hypothetical arguments about the divisions between the black and gay communities, how about focusing on saving these young black gay men.
But in all honesty, the black community has a lot to answer for. The idea that “down low gay black men are causing HIV/AIDS to spread in the black community” was a notion that spread across the community like a wildfire.
And while it was good that black-oriented programs (i.e The House of Payne) are talking about it and BET is featuring commercials telling people to get tested, I can't help wondering if folks would be so concerned if it were only black gay men catching the disease.
It's like the black community is finally catching on because so-called normal people (i.e. black straight women) are in the crossfire.
And after J.L. King's book (On The Down Low) was published, an industry was born but an opportunity to really talk about the actual problems that contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS in the black community (i.e. the dehumanization of lgbts of color) was squandered
Instead, there was a plethora of “how to spot down low men” books, conferences, and seminars across the country.
The most ridiculous (and yes some people actually believed this mess) came from phony black authoress Shahrazad Ali.
Ali, in her book How To Tell if Your Man is Gay or Bisexual, gave a few “tips” on spotting “downlow men,” including:
How does he sleep at night, what position does he sleep in? Does
he sleep like a woman, or like a man? What does he talk about in his
You can touch his rectum to see if he has those tell-tale humps
on his anus from having it stretched open with a penis. Then later on
ask him if he's ever had hemorrhoids really bad.
If he asks you to “toss his salad” and you agree, and his legs go
up too quickly, he's probably used to doing it.
With all of this ignorance and eagerness to get distracted out there, you will forgive me if I'm not that concerned about the CDC's latest statement.
It was meant to clarify but unfortunately the communities it's meant to help probably won't even hear it.
And if they do, they probably won't use the information in the correct manner.