Black Guys Use Condoms More Than White Guys

A new study kicks stereotypes to the curb when it comes to safe sex

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We hear a lot about higher-than-average HIV infection rates among black males these days. But a new study by San Francisco State University finds that black men are actually using condoms more often than their white male peers. Here’s what the researchers have to say:

Black gay men, who face the highest risk of HIV infection, rarely discuss using protection, but tend to use it by default (it was “just understood”) regardless of either partner’s status. White couples, on the other hand, tended not to use condoms, often evaluating the risk of infection based on the health and viral load of the HIV-positive partner.

In cases where couples broke from their agreement and didn’t use protection, black couples tended to get tested and revert back to using condoms, while white couples persisted in not using them.

The study evaluated men in relationships – including black, white and interracial couples.

“Research has shown that some of the fastest growing HIV cases in the U.S. are among men in couple relationships and among black men. However, we studied black men with black partners and found that they are practicing safe sex,” says Colleen Hoff, professor of sexuality studies at SF State. “This suggests that being in a relationship isn’t a risk factor for black men. We need to keep searching for other factors that may explain the high incidence of HIV among this demographic.”

The findings, which were recently presented at the International AIDS Conference in Washington D.C., seem to buck plenty of closely held assumptions.

“We found that black and white gay men process the information they receive about HIV in different ways, and for black men using condoms is the default choice,” says SF State researcher Chad Campbell. “The black gay men we surveyed were aware of the high rates of HIV among their demographic and were taking steps to ensure they don’t become another statistic.”