A Qualitative Study: The Journey to Self-Acceptance of Sexual Identity among Young, Black MSM in the South

Academic Article

Abstract

  • HIV disparities among Young, Black men who have sex with men (YBMSM) persist despite concerted efforts to increase uptake of prevention tools like HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). We conducted in-depth interviews with 25 YBMSM (aged 18-29 years old) to understand factors contributing to PrEP access in Birmingham, Alabama. We identified that one major barrier to PrEP uptake was intersectional stigma related to their multiple identities and contributed to lack of feeling able to accept their sexual identities. Facilitators of validation and acceptance of sexual identity were strong social support networks, which participants reported consisted of, not only other gay and bisexual Black men, but also Black women, an unexplored social support group among YBMSM networks. However, participants felt that internal, perceived and experienced homophobia were exacerbated in Southern, Black communities due to perceived values surrounding masculinity, which were reinforced by religious doctrine. Looking forward, public health officials will need to add additional resources to support interventions that have meso-level impact to effectively change social norms as a critical determinant of individual-level prevention practices within this at-risk group and their social networks.
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    Author List

  • Elopre L; Hussen SA; Ott C; Mugavero MJ; Turan JM