Assessing Sexual Social Networks of Black and Hispanic MSM/Ws in Los Angeles County

Nationally and locally Blacks and Latinos have the highest incidences of HIV/AIDS. When stratifying incidence by gender, Blacks and Latino women have higher rates of HIV infection compared to their White counterparts. A recent “mainstream” hypothesis for the rise in numbers among minority women is that Black and Latino men in concurrent secret sexual relationships with men and Black and Latina women are the “bridgers” of infection between the homosexual (MSM) community and the heterosexual community. Currently no scientific evidence of transmission trends supporting this hypothesis has been documented. Although inferences from surveys such as the Young Men’s Study have been proffered as proof, such studies do not show direct causation. Further, few scientific studies have analyzed the societal and cultural factors that could impact the decision of Black and Latino men to disclose their sexual practices or HIV seropositivity.

The research project involved a two phase mixed methods study (qualitative and quantitative) focusing on cultural, spiritual, racial and gender related factors that facilitate or impede the disclosure of Black and Latino men who have sex with men and women (MSM/W) of their sexual preference or HIV serostatus.

Phase 1 consisted of 9 focus groups with 4 participants each (n=36) and 12 focused interviews (n= 12). All interviewees completed a short survey after the focus group or interview. A racially concordant facilitator conducted each research session. Phase 2 utilized findings from Phase I to construct an ethnographic interview guide. Forty ethnographic interviews (10 African-American MSM/W, 10 Hispanic MSM/W and 20 of their adjacent or peripheral female sexual partners) were conducted.