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Oral Abstracts and Mini-Lectures|
Mechanisms of Action and Resistance to Entry Inhibitors
Monday, 10 am - 12:30 pm
Presentation Time: 10 am
Background: Men “on the ‘down low,’” a subgroup of bisexually active black men has become a focal point of interest in the HIV prevention community in the past several years. One of the primary reasons for this is the question of whether men on the down low function as an HIV transmission bridge to the heterosexual population. Methods: There are several popular characterizations of men on the down low, some of which may have a basis in truth, while others have no empirical foundation. These include: hypermasculinity that masks any suspicion of homosexual behavior; a man with a steady female partner who will sleep with, but not date, other men; a disdain for being labeled “gay” or “bisexual” and a distancing from the primarily white mainstream gay subculture; someone who has unprotected sex with both female and male sex partners; and someone who has either not been tested for HIV, or who has been tested but does not disclose his HIV status to his sexual partners. Results: While men on the down low are an emerging topic of public discourse and speculation, no scientific data have been published on this specific population. However, several studies of heterosexually or bisexually identified black men who have sex with men (MSM) indicate that there is a complex interplay of sexual identity, orientation, and behavior that merits further study. Conclusions: Both qualitative and quantitative studies should be undertaken specifically to examine the HIV behavioral risks of men of color on the down low. Future research should standardize what characterizes the down low, examine the sexual networks of men on the down low, and determine the role of such HIV-positive men in ongoing HIV transmission.