209488 Drugs, Sex, Condoms: Cultural Messages Influencing HIV+ Black Gay/Bisexual Male Youth

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 11:30 AM

Gary W. Harper, PhD, MPH , Master of Public Health Program, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
April Timmons, MA , Department of Psychology, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
John LoPresto, BA , Department of Psychology, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Traci Ackron, MA , Department of Psychology, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Brian Rood, BA , Master of Public Health Program, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Douglas Bruce, PhD , Adolescent Community Health Research Group, DePaul University, Chicago, IL

Young Black gay/bisexual men (YBGM) have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS in the U.S., thus it's important to develop secondary prevention interventions for HIV+ YGBM.


Qualitative interviews were conducted with 36 HIV+ YBGM ages17-24, recruited from four geographically/demographically diverse clinics. Questions explored ethnic/cultural messages HIV+ YBGM receive that either promote or discourage substance use, condom use, and sexual activity.


Data revealed that cultural messages emanate from multiple sources: family, peers, sexual partners, community/neighborhood, and broader society. Regarding substance use, most messages promoted use: marijuana viewed as natural/not a drug, common community images of use, easy accessibility, and media images of Black men using; with only one message discouraging use: negative images of family substance abuse. Messages promoting non-use of condoms included: increased pleasure with non-use, penis too big, dealing with consequences later, and only used for pregnancy prevention; whereas those promoting condom use included: BGM featured in porn using condoms; high rates of HIV/STIs among BGM, Black-specific television messages promoting use. Messages regarding sexual activity were all risk promoting: pressure to be dominant, inactivity as a sign of weakness, silence due to religion, promotion of irresponsibility, overexposure of sexuality in media, insatiability, objectification (by partners), monogamy viewed as only for White gay men.


These data demonstrate the wide range of cultural messages related to risk behaviors that may influence HIV+ YBGM. Future secondary prevention programs for this population should assist with developing a critical consciousness regarding these messages in order to promote health enhancing behaviors.

Learning Objectives:
To identify the role of cultural messages in the health-related behaviors of HIV+ young Black gay men. To describe a range of ethnic/cultural messages HIV+ young Black gay men receive regarding substance use, condom use, and sexual activity. To discuss ways in which cultural messages regarding substance use, condom use, and sexual activity can be addressed in secondary prevention programs for HIV+ young Black gay men.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Youth

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been conducting HIV-related research/service for more than 20 years, with expertise in issues impacting gay/bisexual youth of color. I have earned both a PhD and an MPH and have published multiple scientific articles on topics related to HIV and youth who are Black, HIV+, and/or gay/bisexual.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.