Study: Men's 'Down Low' Sex Often Stereotyped
Researchers Say Media Attention of Down Low Behavior Is Misdirected
WebMD News Archive
June 15, 2005 -- Media attention has recently lighted on men who have sex
with other men "on the down low" (without telling their primary female
partner about it). Now, researchers say the reality doesn't always match the
Mainstream coverage of down low, or DL, behavior has often featured the
black community. For instance, author J.L. King's 2004 book On the Down
Low: A Journey Into the Lives of "Straight" Black Men Who Sleep With
Men hit The New York Times' best-seller list and was featured on
Oprah Winfrey's TV talk show.
But the DL also exists in other communities, as CDC researchers told the
2005 National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta.
More than a million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, according to
another report presented at the conference. Nearly half (47%) are black, 34%
are white, and 17% are Hispanic. Men account for about three-quarters of HIV
cases. By risk group, men who have sex with men represent the largest
population living with HIV (45%) followed by high-risk heterosexual contact
New HIV infections are rising among blacks, women, and people who get the
virus through heterosexual contact, says the report.
"As a society, we need to challenge our assumptions about why
African-Americans, men who have sex with men, and other populations are at high
risk for HIV," says Phil Wilson, executive director of the Black AIDS
Institute, in a news release.
"Broad labels like 'down low' and misdirected attention on small subsets
of the population do little to advance HIV prevention," he continues.
"Instead, we need to focus on reducing specific behaviors that place both
men and women at continued risk."