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News Link • Sexuality: Sex and the Law

For gay couples, condom decision-making and condom use varies by race

• http://www.bio-medicine.org, Elaine Bible
 Gay men, particularly white and black men, account for the majority of new HIV cases in the United States. One source of HIV infection could be men's primary relationship partners. To explore this aspect of risk, San Francisco State University researchers studied how black, white and interracial male couples make decisions about using condoms.

In a National Institutes of Health-funded study of male couples in San Francisco and New York, the researchers found that black couples were more likely use condoms regardless of HIV status. Black couples reported that practicing safe sex was the product of unspoken agreements where it was "just understood" that condom use was non-negotiable.

"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," said 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."

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