Social and psychological context for HIV risk in non-gay-identified African American men who have sex with men

AIDS Educ Prev. 2008 Aug;20(4):347-59. doi: 10.1521/aeap.2008.20.4.347.


This study used qualitative methods to explore the social and psychological context of sexual behavior and HIV risk among African American non-gay-identified men who have sex with men. Analysis of men's narratives on their sexual behaviors revealed four social and psychological factors contributing to risk for HIV infection: (a) a tendency to compartmentalize and personally disengage from same-sex behavior, (b) traditional gender roles that reinforce men's adherence to masculine images and ambivalent attitudes toward women, (c) cultural norms that favor secrecy and privacy about any personal matters, and (d) spontaneous and unplanned sexual episodes with other men. Findings indicate that innovative HIV prevention and risk reduction strategies are necessary to reach this group and question the legitimacy of conventional sexual orientation categories for these men. Interventions must address social contextual determinants of risk, reinforce men's public identifications as straight/heterosexual, and maintain men's need for privacy about same-sex behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans*
  • Bisexuality / psychology*
  • Gender Identity
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Unsafe Sex / psychology*