All throughout history since the AIDS and HIV diseases has made its presence known; it has always been looked at and referred to as "The Gay White Men's Disease". Now, the deadly incurable disease has spread way beyond the white Gay community, it is now being seen at an alarming rate in the African American community amongst heterosexual black women. Many African American men are leading double lives and refusing to admit to their female partners, who believe they are in a relationship with heterosexual men, that they are "Gay", causing the women they are with to contract AIDS/HIV.
According to the Center for Disease Control, African American women between the ages of 25 and 44 make up 76 % of AIDS cases and 75 percent of that number was contracted from heterosexual sex. (www.cdc.org) So many are questioning how this deadly disease has gone from a gay white man's disease to the leading cause of death amongst African American women. Black men almost inherit promiscuity like a trait inherited from a parent; it is a learned behavior that is constantly reinforced by our culture, a culture that has value in the sexual experience of a man. Many believe that the recent rise of "down low" men, in the African American community has become the bridge between black heterosexual, non drug using women and AIDS.(www.alternet.org) Keith Boykin defined "Down Low" as the "men whose public identification is straight, but who have discreet sex with other men outside of the primary relationship. A person who identifies this way would be said to be on the down low". As stated and researched by The Center For Disease Control, sex with men is the leading cause of HIV infection among black men because the study showed 8,780 HIV positive men had all contracted the virus from having sex with another man. Then a survey of the black community reported that only 25 percent of these black men who have sex with men, identified themselves as homosexual, that leaves a large amount of unidentified down low men out there in our communities. The problem is not that these men are sleeping with other men, the problem is that they are doing so without using protection and then going home and sleeping with their wives and girlfriends (risking their lives with no protection), who have no idea that their husbands are sleeping with men. Many of these men pick up these bisexual behaviors from another older man when they are younger, and some are just born gay or bisexual. Most of the other down low brothers learn this behavior while doing time in the prison systems; in some prisons African Americans make up 90% of the inmate population and are usually the majority in all prisons. In fact African Americans make up nearly one million of the 2.2 million U.S. prisons population. They learn the behaviors in prison either from being raped or being curious. Many men in prison believe that they do it as a matter of survival and sanity. In prison the behavior is not looked down on by the inmates because everyone is doing it, even some of the prison guards and head officials in the prisons. The down side to this is that the Criminal Justice System does not pay attention to or address these sexual acts that are going on in side the prisons and do not provide condoms, or any programs for AIDS prevention or safe sex, but they know it is going on. A great deal of black men contract AIDS or HIV while in jail and never know because the jails do not test the men before they go into the prison system or when they are released. Many prisons believe that if they establish such AIDS prevention and safe sex programs, and began giving out condoms that they are condoning homosexuality. This may be true, but the men are going to have sex with or without condoms, spreading all sorts of diseases to each other. (www.nationalvanguard.com) After most these men learn this behavior and get used to not using condoms, they come out of jail, never admitting they are gay or bisexual and have sex...
Cited: King, J.L. On The Down Low. New York: Broadway, 2004.
Constantine-Simms, Delroy, ed. The Greatest Taboo. Los Angeles: Alyson, 2001
Edwards, Tamala. "Men Who Sleep with Men-AIDS risk to African American Women." Essence. Oct. 2001
Roberts, Frank. Dancing the "Down Low". 2003. 22 July 2003
Lee, Ryan. "Down Low" Unfairly Blamed for HIV. 2004. 20, August 2004
Kai, Wright. "AIDS and Black New Yorkers". Village Voice Part 2 (2000). 21-27 June 2000 http://www.aegis.com/news/vv/2000/vv000602.htmluard.org/story.php?
"Down Low" Lifestyle Causing AIDS Epidemic Among Blacks. 04 Aug 2004.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document