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Bisexual Men Disproportionally at Risk for HIV and STDs, Says CDC

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Monday Jun 23, 2014
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The CDC says bisexual men are at high risk for HIV and STDs
The CDC says bisexual men are at high risk for HIV and STDs  (Source:Thinkstock)

A new study now reveals that bisexual face unique sexual health challenges that may put them at disproportionally risk from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Gay Star News reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their findings in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine

William Jeffries, the author of the study, said that HIV is less common among bisexual men compared to gay and bisexual men, many who may be at risk avoid prevention services like HIV testing. "Biphobia," he said, is to blame."

"Biphobia can manifest in erroneous beliefs that MSMW are gay men who have not disclosed their sexual orientation and, particularly for black men, responsible for HIV transmission to women," said Jeffries. "Experiencing these sentiments can contribute to [their] social isolation and psychological distress, which in turn may promote HIV/STI risk through substance use, sexual risk behaviors and the avoidance of prevention services."

Although Jeffries estimates that only two percent of the population identify as bisexual men, more outreach is needed to understand their sexual health factors including unprotected sex, forced sexual encounters and an increased number of sexual partners.

These findings shed further light on the November 2013 results from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health that reports, which challenged the long-held popular assumption that bisexual men were predominantly responsible for transmitting HIV to female partners.

"Some observers have exaggerated the idea of viral ’bridging’ -- where a bisexual man contracts HIV from another man and then transmits it to a female partner. But, at least in the U.S., the data supporting the extent of this is quite limited," says Dr. Mackey R. Friedman, of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and lead author of the study.

Researchers there analyzed more than 3,000 studies to gather data on HIV prevalence and the risks of HIV transmission between gay and bisexual men. They found that bisexual men were only 40 percent as likely to be infected with HIV as gay men. Friedman said that he believed men who were bisexual had a lower risk of HIV infection.

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women’s news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she writes about local restaurants in her food blog, http://brooklyniscookin.blogspot.com/

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