Online Program

‘the stigma of masculinity:' sex, HIV and relationships among female partners of bisexual men

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 3:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.

Sonja Mackenzie, DrPH, Health Equity Institute, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
Background: The highest rates of HIV in the U.S. are found among urban Black men who have sex with men, including bisexually active men. Research has found that sexual risk behaviors are high between Black bisexually active men and their female partners, yet these relationships remain understudied. Methods: The Me & My Boo Project is a five-year mixed methods study of the cultural and relationship context of HIV among bisexually active Black men and their female partners in the San Francisco Bay Area. This analysis draws on twenty in-depth qualitative interviews conducted in 2013 with HIV-positive and HIV-negative women partnered with bisexually active Black men over the past year. Two trained analysts used ATLAS.ti to conduct qualitative analyses of narratives of relationships, sexual identity, disclosure and HIV risk.

Results: HIV+ and HIV- women described a range of sexual relationship types with bisexually active men. Most women learned of their partner's bisexual activity through friends, and described wanting support in talking about their partner's sexuality. Some relationships continued after disclosure. Several women had concurrent sexual relationships they did not disclose, and some HIV+ women had not disclosed their HIV status to partners. Women described their own and societal homophobia and biphobia, and the stigma of masculinity faced by men.

Conclusions: Women partnered with bisexually active Black men described their own agency in complex relationship configurations involving non-disclosure and concurrent partnerships. Women wanted men to be “man enough” while also voicing understandings of cultural norms of masculinity underlying men's sexual relationships.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Analyze the experiences of HIV+ and HIV- women who have been partnered with bisexually active Black men Identify the social and cultural factors underlying sexual relationships of women partnered with bisexually active Black men Describe the influence of cultural ideologies of gender, including masculinity, on the sexual relationships and HIV risk of women partnered with bisexual men Discuss implications of these findings for HIV prevention interventions for women and men

Keyword(s): Women and HIV/AIDS, Sexuality

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am Principal Investigator on this NIH award.
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.

Back to: 4318.0: HIV and sexual identity