Objectives: Surveillance findings consistently indicate that black men who have sex with men (MSM) experience a disproportionate burden of HIV/AIDS compared with white MSM. This study tested the hypothesis that black MSM engage in greater levels of HIV risk behaviors than white MSM and sought to determine if self-reported HIV serostatus moderated any of the observed differences.
Methods: A cross-sectional study of MSM was conducted by recruiting men from gay-identified venues in a large metropolitan area of the southern United States. Data were collected by face-to-face interview.
Results: The hypothesis was only supported for one measure of HIV risk behavior: The average number of main (steady) sex partners in the past year was significantly greater among black men (P < 0.0001). However, black and white MSM did not significantly differ in unprotected sex with serodiscordant partners. Racial differences in sexual risk behavior were found only for HIV-negative men and indicated greater protective behavior for black men.
Discussion: These findings suggest that fewer black MSM, compared with white MSM, engage in HIV sexual risk behaviors but only among HIV-negative men. Identifying the epidemiologic dynamics driving HIV infection among black MSM that go beyond individual-level risk behaviors may be warranted.