HIV & Race

RACE AND HIV/AIDS

Statistically speaking gay/bi-sexual men of colour are much more likely to….nope, sorry, can’t do it…won’t do it!. If you’re a man of colour, you already know all of the End-of-the-World statistics and predictions about you, your friends and loved ones. (Hell, we even list them in the FAST FACTS section of this website) You may know many guys that have HIV+ or are terrified of contracting this illness. What we will not do is repeat those negative outlooks here because they refuse to address one single component which changes those numbers; YOU. You have total and complete control over whether you contract HIV or any other sexually transmitted disease. The higher melanin level in your skin, your genetic make-up and in total, your race, doesn’t make the HIV virus easier to contract than for those living in white bodies. Socio-economics, salary and education aren’t even dictators when compared with non-people of colour. What is a huge factor is your sexual pool. People of colour, though growing, are still minorities in the United States. Many, due to cultural, social, legal and community factors, have sex mainly with other people of colour, thus making the number of potential sexual partners much smaller within an already small community. This is why it LOOKS like people of colour are more susceptible to infection.

Statistics show that white gay males still make up the bulk of infections per year but with a smaller percentage seroconverting to positive. There is a difference between actual numbers and percentage of infection. Men of colour have a higher percentage, based on members claiming to be gay or bi-sexual. But, those that have a larger sexual pool due to partners of other races and education levels tends to decrease infection risk. Our take away from this, was to not limit sexual partners based on race, but we would never limit our experiences anyway.

Take a look at the cycle graph to the right, for a moment.

Ok, If James contracts HIV and then, because of his small dating and sexual pool, has sex with Paul, who then has sex with Jamal, and then Carlos, it will not take long before all four guys have HIV, especially if this small group are “fuck buddies” or live in close proximity. Now, if one, or all of these guys are linked to another, small group of guys or attend the same sex parties, bath houses or even share people in common on social media, HIV has a nice place to replicate with speed and ease. This is essentially how the virus is spread with gay males in general, but it takes less time in smaller, minority communities.

Pay close attention to the last name listed in the circles below and follow them to see how quickly any sexually transmitted disease can transmit. Also, imagine this being at ONE party or event on ONE night.

This fact is played out daily along the East Coast cites of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C, and down to Atlanta.

Further, these cities are part of the so-called Megalopolis, where guys travel up and down I95 for work and play. Which means containing a virus is much more difficult as spikes will occur in one city and quickly, due to mass transit and communication (Hahaha, that was a nice way to mention hook-up apps) makes connecting with another man of colour much easier and cheaper than ever before.

This ain’t that deep to understand. But, this is only one part of the issue, so let’s break it down:

HIV Education and Proper Healthcare:

You cannot be afraid of learning about your body, sexual and/or general health. These are the facts of your life, if you like it or not. You must take control of your education, through research and then act on it. Find a doctor, get tested, and if positive for any STD, get treated immediately.

Yes, we know about the issues with people of colour and the healthcare system, but that doesn’t let you off the hook. It just means that you need to educate yourself more and work harder to find a doctor that will meet your needs. Sometimes this will mean coming out of the closet (if you are in one), it may mean traveling out of your way, or even moving to new city. We’re not saying any of this lightly, as we have done all of these ourselves, but we are asking you a basic question: What are you willing to do to save your own life?

PrEP and PEP:

Unfortunately, the message about PrEP has not been getting to many communities of colour. And those that have been informed are not convinced of its ability to stop the HIV virus. Everyone needs to spread the word that these are options and are effective.

The medications to prevent and treat HIV are part of strong science. They do work, before the fact, and after, if you believe you have been exposed. The disparities in medical care are well known and documented, and many studies discuss how difficult it may be for gay males of colour to learn about these options or even get them prescribed and paid for. BUT, YOU CANNOT DEPEND ON OTHERS TO SAVE YOUR LIFE. THAT IS YOUR JOB!

We are not going to play the ‘….if you believe you are at risk ” card, because we are telling you that you are at risk. If you’re a gay male, of colour, and are sexually active, you are at high risk for contracting the HIV virus. Full. Stop.

This means that when you’re searching for a doctor, HIV/STDs will need to be at the front of your mind. If you are HIV negative, wish to have access to these medications and your doctor will not prescribe PrEP for you, get a new damn doctor. His/her health is not at stake, yours is.

  • Medicaid, in many states, will pay for PrEP/PEP
  • Pharmacies and Pharmaceutical companies have programs that reduce the cost or even make these meds free

Communication

  • This shouldn’t have to be said, but you are the one in control of your health and life. Don’t assume that he is negative just because he didn’t say he has HIV. There is also nothing wrong with the concept of “TRUST…but VERIFY”.
  • If you want to stay HIV free, this means that you must start opening your mouth and telling the truth. But you must first know the truth. It’s not good enough to claim you are negative, you must actually BE HIV NEGATIVE. If you are HIV positive, you must get treatment and get your golden ticket of undetectable.
  • “I don’t know” is no longer an option. If he doesn’t care enough to know the truth about his own health, why would he care about your’s?
  • We’re not going to lecture you about how to discuss your HIV status, because you already know the right and the wrong way. If you don’t, we will cover that in our STIGMA section. But for right now, just try not to be a dick. HIV negative does not equal clean. HIV positive does not equal dirty or even sick. Man. Up. & Grow. Up.
  • If you are HIV positive, taking your medication and are undetectable; Great! But, your work is not done. Honesty and communication are still key for you and your sexual partners. Studies show that those with properly treated HIV infection can and should lead normal, healthy lives. Undetectable guys also cannot pass on the virus. This includes you.

NOTE: Proper communication skills will also help you with your doctors/nurses but also friends and even family. We cannot stress enough that Silence Still Equals Death.

Condoms/Lube

The stereotype is that men of colour hate condoms more than white men, which is why HIV is such an issue. As stated, this is not true. Men of colour report a higher use of condoms than whites, but the myth lives on.

Actually it doesn’t matter what others think. What matters is what you know and practice. See, every guy hates condoms over natural skin. Many say that they cannot tell the difference, but we won’t lie to you; condoms do feel different, even the Ultra Thins. The reason is simple; THAT IS THEIR PURPOSE.

You have a man-made piece of material creating a barrier between you and your sexual partner. The way that it helps to reduce the risk for STD transmission is the same reason it feels different. Something is on your dick! This is a fact. Just like touching another hand with a gloved hand feels different than without. But every winter, you pull out those gloves at the first sign of frost, and keep them on until Spring.

See, we do things that are slightly uncomfortable everyday for maximum benefit or lower risk. You wear a tie to work, to keep being employed. You wear gloves for warmth and a condom is no different. It adds a layer of protection. Your race does not make you an authority on not using condoms. But, here are a few things that may help.

  1. Even though all men of colour are considered to be very well endowed, this is a myth. Check out our Penis Primer for the facts. But, either way, not all boys are made equally. Finding the right condom is an act of trial and error. And no, not all of you are MAGNUM READY. So, Stop it.
  2. Lube helps. It creates a greater level of intimacy for both partners but also helps with sensation and comfort.
  3. Don’t stress. The more you worry about condoms decreasing sensitivity or even ruing the mood, the more they will. If you know how to put on a condom correctly, it should take seconds. Use that time wisely for foreplay and even keeping eye contact. Think outside of the box.

Finally:

These are tips that can help everyone but definitely if you are in a small social/sexual circle. If just James does this, he will decrease the risk and HIV infection for the rest of the group. And if one or even two of the group started to speak openly and honestly about HIV and other STD prevention practices, think of how fast we could wipe out this illness. Yes, the numbers and statistics seem bleak, but you don’t have to listen or believe that HIV is a definite in your life. That is bullshit!

You are the Captain of your life and the decisions you make will effect you most of all. Your race will only determine your risk if you want it to. Follow our advice, get tested and have lots of hot sex.