Persistence of racial differences in attitudes toward homosexuality in the United States

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2010 Dec;55(4):516-23. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e3181f275e0.

Abstract

Background: Stigma may mediate some of the observed disparity in HIV infection rates between black and white men who have sex with men (MSM).

Methods: We used data from the General Social Survey to describe race-specific trends in the US population's attitude toward homosexuality, reporting of male same-sex sexual behavior, and behaviors that might mediate the relationship between stigma and HIV transmission among MSM.

Results: The proportion of blacks who indicated that homosexuality was "always wrong" was 72.3% in 2008, largely unchanged since the 1970s. In contrast, among white respondents, this figure declined from 70.8% in 1973 to 51.6% in 2008 with most change occurring since the early 1990s. Participants who knew a gay person were less likely to have negative attitudes toward homosexuality (relative risk, 0.60; 95% confidence interval, 0.52 to 0.69). Among MSM, twice as many black MSM reported that homosexuality is "always wrong" compared with white MSM (57.1% versus 26.8%, P = 0.003). MSM with unfavorable attitudes toward homosexuality were less likely to report ever testing for HIV compared with MSM with more favorable attitudes (relative risk, 0.50; 95% confidence interval, 0.31 to 0.78).

Conclusions: US attitudes toward homosexuality are characterized by persistent racial differences, which may help explain disparities in HIV infection rates between black and white MSM.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans*
  • Aged
  • Attitude / ethnology*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / ethnology*
  • Homosexuality, Male*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Problems / ethics*
  • Social Stigma*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • United States / ethnology