Black Men ‘On the Down Low’ Bring Distrust to African-American Communities, Commentary Says
The phenomenon of black men "on the down low" -- men who have sex with men but do not mention their male relationships to their female sex partners, friends or family members -- threatens brotherly support networks that have been vital to African-American communities, Jeff Obafemi Carr, an actor and playwright in Nashville, Tenn., said on Friday in a commentary on NPR's "Tavis Smiley Show" (Carr, "Tavis Smiley Show," NPR, 6/4). Although the number of new HIV cases among black women has remained stable over the past few years, the number of cases linked to heterosexual sex among black women has increased. Some observers say that the increase in the number of HIV cases linked to heterosexual sex among black women stems from men on the down low (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/2). Carr, who identifies himself as a heterosexual, college-educated African American, said he has developed a case of "down-low phobia" and questions his ability to forge "honest, meaningful friendship bonds" with black men since learning about the phenomenon. Carr said that men on the down low not only put black women at increased risk of HIV infection but also put women's future male sexual partners at risk. Carr said that the down-low network threatens to bring "deception and destruction, infection and deconstruction." Carr concluded that he hopes people can "just be who they are without deceiving others" and honesty can return to African-American communities ("Tavis Smiley Show," NPR, 6/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.