Monday, February 4, 2008

Common sense saves lives

Are DL men or Bi-sexual Black men, really the reason there is an HIV/ AIDS epidemic in the Black community and especially amongst Black women?

Although some people say that there is not actually an epidemic amongst Black women. But that is a debate for another day.

What I want to talk about is the thought by many people that Black men on the down low, men who have sex with women and secretly with men too, are really responsible for the majority of HIV/ AIDS transmissions to Black women.

First; I don't have any first hand knowledge on these issues but I do have anecdotal information.

Here is what I see happening.

Black men are going to prison in record numbers and have been going to prison in those very high numbers for almost three decades now.

The Reagan Administration and the crack cocaine epidemic ushered in an era of high incarceration rates of Black men.

We have all heard the jokes about men going to jail and having encounters with "Bubba". You know, the thing we laugh about but don't take seriously, prison sex. Almost no one talks about what goes on in prison sexually except in most cases as a joke.

The truth is that prison sex occurs and it occurs more often than those of us who have never been in prison could imagine. Some of the sex is consensual and some of it is forced. Add that to the fact that it is illegal to have sex in prison, which means there are no condoms in prison and what you get is an epidemic.

I assume that the vast majority of men who engage in sex while in prison are not gay. So when these men come out of prison there is very, very little chance that they will engage in sex with men. If that is the case then women who are looking for signs that those men are on the DL once out of prison won't see any.

These men are not having sex with men outside of prison.

So now we have heterosexual men who come out of prison that may be infected with a sexually transmitted disease and are having intimate relations with women.

And that I believe is accounting for the transmission of HIV/ AIDS into the straight Black community.

So if women are stuck thinking that if they don't see any signs of their man being on the DL that they are safe may actually be in great danger.

And as I'm sure we all know when we have sex with someone we are also having sex with everyone they have ever had sex with. So even if a particular man has never been to prison or engaged in homosexual sex, he may have had sex with a woman whose ex-boyfriend may have had a long history of incarceration.

The second thing I would note is that according to people who study these sorts of things, the number of homosexuals in any given population is between 3% and 5% of the population.

So now take that 5% and subtract from that the small number the men who are living down low lives and what are we left with? Maybe less than 1% of the population who are on the DL?

So now we have to ask an honest unbiased question. How would less than 1% of the population be responsible for an epidemic? Isn't it more likely that the millions of men who have spent time incarcerated might have a batter chance of being the catalyst for an epidemic?

If we are going to stop Black women from being infected we have to look at the situation with out bias. That bias I believe can and is costing us our lives.

Thinking that if you don't see signs of your man being on the DL means you are safe is dangerous. Has that same man been to prison? Have his ex girlfriends had sex with men who have been to prison?

It's much more likely that Black women are going to come into intimate contact with men who have been to prison than it is that they will encounter a DL man.

A little common sense and a little less hype can save untold lives.


What do you think?

Do you think it's likely that ex-inmates are spreading HIV/ AIDs?

Or do you think Black men on the down low are responsible?

26 comments:

XJ said...

MDC,

I have never looked at it that way but there is definitely something to your thoughts. You titled this common sense - this may seem unrealistic but it really isn't -before you have sex with someone both of you should be tested and in the case of AIDS it can actually not show up for up to 6 months - so a person should be willing to wait that long and also be able to trust that the person isn't dipping out! This is our lives we are talking about. I know I can wait. And it is so true about the having sex w/the people the person you are having sex with. Being a lesbian I think puts me in a sort of comfort zone but I have been w/women who are str8 or bi and found out later they cheated on me. No more for me - my life is worth more. Thanks for all your writings!

jjbrock said...

Mes Deux Cents, great article. you really did the leg work on this. From reading your article and actual pondering what you wrote it has to be the ex-inmate. Therefore, the black community shouldn't put all the blame on the dl brother.

wisdomteachesme said...

well now, some men get hiv in prison, some get it from prostitutes, some get it from women that are not prostitutes. some get it from other men and neither has been in prison.

white men are factors in this situation also-though i know you are focusing on black men.

the use of condoms in the black community has always been a problem-whereas in general-from what i know, blacks don't like to use them-which spreads many infections and diseases among communities.

i don't think anyone will ever narrow down "how so many black men get hiv/aids" because many people do not talk about it or reveal it to medical agencies.

these dl men have been here for Many years, in all colors and across all cultures. and that is what blacks call them-i guess the whites could be called the same thing--i tend to just call them nomatter what color or gender = CHEATERS!

to be safe--women should not have sex unprotected--no matter what he says feels good or not. and men should not take them off if the woman protest.
no condom-no sex-
for the women that are married-it would be harder to say that--as you are trusting that your husband or wife is not fooling around with other women or men.

so are we back where we started from? how do you ask your husband or wife these things when you are trusting?

Baby Please said...

Funny this should come up today. I saw a couple yesterday at a market. I noticed them cuz she was hugged up on him and whispering in his ear. Anyhoo, we were on line, getting food. They paid and left the area. I paid and left the area.

When I sat down to eat, I happened to sit next to them.

And then I heard his voice.

And that made me look at him.

And I kept eating. And I kept hearing his voice.

I looked again. And really paid attention.

He was gay as a bird.

I wanted to tell her, "Chile, he gay." I was thinking to myself, "I wish there was a way I could tell her."

My point is there are so many straight women who are completely clueless and are unable to recognize the signs of homosexuality.

I think the DL is the reason for the increasing AIDs stats in black women.

Many, many straight women are unaware of the prevalence of this.

That incident I described -- I see it fairly often, especially where I live.

One time I ended up at a party by accident. It was a party for college kids. I ain't a college kid no mo and havn't been in a while. We said fukit and stayed. It was a straight scene but we were peeping two seemingly straight cats. Long story short. These young men could hide it no longer. They started dancing together -- but in a way that looked platonic. One of the things we observed -- before they started dancing together -- is women eyeballing them; one in particular. Blah Blah

So sorry for this rambling.

Damn.

clnmike said...

Thats the biggest myth running around the black community.

What Black Men think did a great blog on this:
http://whatblackmenthink.com/2007/12/21/the-confusion-is-in-the-illusion-part-2/

I am not going to even address the DL soap opera that women love.

The fact is unprotected sex by all parties is to blame for the spread of HIV.

Using the DL is an excuse to remove the blame and responability from your self, and place it on a boogy man under your bed.

IV drug use and unprotected sex are the main means of transport.

When people and black women in particular can see that than you will see a dramatic decrease in the disease.

clnmike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wisdomteachesme said...

awwwww, yes and no, i think more women than let on KNOW they are with gay men that does not truthfully speak up to being gay.

and have you ever known a straight women that seem to keep dating gay men? LOL i know a few--and i always tell them,,is there something about yourself that you are not being truthful about? LOL

and i believe there are a few women that are clueless (a few), to the fact that they are with a gay man.
esp. the very butch gay men.

i'm on the same team as xj-being a lesbian. being in a wonderfully committed realtionship-i am not at risk of 'catching' hiv or anything through sex. though i know about what xj said concerning women that are coming from- always dating men and then coming into truth about themselves later in their lives. and also the women that lie and know they are 'doing' both. see, being gay or lesbian does not exclude a person from being a fool or stank.

Cheating is wrong-having mutiple partners without protection and truth is just WRONG! no matter if you are in a heter or a homo relationship--no matter whether you are male or female-

and it's a shame that common sense if not common!

it's always amazing to me, how deep shallow is!

tasha212 said...

I think the DL thing is part truth and part hype. I see alot of guys who sleep with men and date and sleep with women. A lot of times, these men are obviously gay. But sometimes they're not. These men are called "trade". I have a sister who seems to always end up in relationships with gay men. The problem is real, but it is also hyped. Because the in the closet thing is not an exclusively black male phenomenon. Remember that white congressman who came out of the closet in front of the whole world? I think people saw an opportunity to capitalize on people's fears and on the homophobia that is rampant in the black community. So, I think it is a factor in the AIDS epidemic but not the only factor.

Prometheus 6 said...

You're largely correct. I looked into the same thing in 2006 and found DOCUMENTATION of it...

http://www.prometheus6.org/node/13039

But I also found another AIDS vector in prison: tattoos. A dirty needle is a dirty needle, you know?

roslynholcomb said...

I can't imagine why anyone would EVAH date an ex-inmate. I did research in prisons while I was in undergrad, ye gods! Even without the gay sex issue, I don't believe anyone can go to prison and come out human, even if he does manage to avoid gay sex.

As for the DL issue, I know two women who got burned this way. One who married her high school sweetheart. The other who was married to her husband 30+ years. She found out when she tested positive. She killed herself.

Do I think the DL is responsible? No I don't. I think basic nihilism in the black community is at the core of this issue. We aren't loved, we don't love ourselves and we sure as hell don't love one another. When I was a social worker I was constantly confronted with the issue of people, some in the 40s and 50s who had multiple sex partners without any thought of protection. Further, they got mad offended if you suggested such a thing.

Baby Please said...

I am busy at work and didn't thoroughly read the comments but I do know this. I would disagree vehemently that the DL thing is a myth. That DL thing is no myth; believe it. It is NO MYTH.

phx said...

First of all, I can't understand the difference between DL and bisexual. I'm thinking there really is not difference, it's just some men don't want to admit that they are attracted to both men AND women. And if it's true 3-5% identify as gay, I'm going to bet it's more than 1% that are bisexual. All you have to do is take a look on craigslist to see how many married men are looking for casual sex with another male.
I don't think it's fair to "blame" any group for HIV - not all ex-cons, not all gays, not all bi's are out there doing the wrong thing. What we need to do is blame risky behaviors. And THAT can occur in any group.

SheCodes said...

There are a lot of factors. But one that a lot of people don't realize is statutory rape.

Many, many young teenage black girls are targeted for 'relationships' with older, grown men, and get infected really early in the game. These men are predators, often do drugs and visit prostitutes too. By the time the girls get tested (usually after finding out that they are pregnant), they are already positive.

The REAL reason that black women are getting HIV is this: A LACK OF SEXUAL AGENCY. They do not believe that they have enough power in the relationship to demand a condom, and in many cases, they are right.

They are not in exclusive relationships in the first place, and they will do anything to keep a man in their life, including having unprotected sex for him because 'it feels better to him'.

I know that the DL phenomenon is not a myth -- I know of 4 women that have been burned by it already. Although the numbers could be more hyped up than in actual incidences.

clnmike said...

The myth is not that DL do not exist, the myth is that they are one, in such massive numbers that they effect the black community in this way and that two, they are one of the main modes of the spread of HIV.

Ignorance on how the disease spreads is what is dangerous, and the idea that this is something exclusive to blacks puts women in danger when they date outside the race.

The fact is you need to treat relationships like a boxing match protect your self at all times, regardless of how long you known each other and before that jimmy hat comes off have a full blood screening.

Does not matter if dude was gay or not or bats for both teams, use a CONDOM.

Fat Lady said...

This is a complex issue - and certainly one that I don't think helps anyone by trying to narrow it down to one predominant factor. Sure - prison has its effect, as does men on the DL and drugs and other factors as well.

But I think those are all symptoms. The real epidemic is widespread self-hatred. If we Black folks don't learn to love ourselves and each other - all of this is just going to go on and on and on.

If we could love ourselves then we would treat ourselves and each other with more care and respect.

If we could love ourselves we would feel a little more comfortable with letting people be who they are and giving them the love and acceptance they deserve regardless of sexual orientation.

If we could love ourselves there would be less drug use, less of our men in prison, less people who felt they had to hide their sexuality.

If we could love ourselves we could be honest and upfront with each other and protect each other and ourselves from all kinds of ills - including HIV.

If we could love ourselves - we would care for and support where now we alienate and ostracize.

If we could love ourselves we would work together to find real solutions rather than easy answers and scapegoats.

If we could love ourselves...well all kinds of things would be different.

Mes Deux Cents said...

XJ,

Yep women are not immune from playing both sides of the fence.

I've known a few women that led secret lives.
_____________________________________

JJ B,

I think that there are Dl men out there. I just don't think they are the main cause of the epidemic.
___________________________________

WTM,

That's true; HIV/ AIDS can come from various risky behaviors. I just hope women are not lulled into a sense of safety if their men are clearly str8.
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Baby Please,

So you really think that there are that many DL men?

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ClnMike,

I totally agree about people not wanting to take responsibility.
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WTM,

I know what you mean about certain women that always seem to be dating gay men. But I think that has to do, as you say, with them not owning up to who they are.

"it's always amazing to me, how deep shallow is!"

That is so true.
___________________________________

Tasha,

So is the term "trade" another term for a gay man or for bi-sexual men?
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Prometheus 6,

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.

I've read about the spread of Hep C from prison tats.

There are just so many STD's to be concerned with and so many entry points into the community.
___________________________________

Roslyn,

I'm sorry to hear of what those women went through. I think the Black community needs to stop with the homophobia.

I think that these men are afraid to be themselves because of the homophobia. So they try to fit into a heterosexual lifestyle. That never works in the long run and everyone gets hurt.
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Baby Please,

I don't think it's a myth, I just think that the numbers don't add up to DL men being the main reason for the numbers of HIV/ AIDS amongst Black women.
___________________________________

Phx,

Well a DL man is not necessarily bi-sexual and a bi-sexual man is not necessarily on the DL.

Regarding craigslist and making assumptions about the general population; that's like standing in the middle of a rodeo and then thinking that most Americans are of cowboys.

I agree, no one group is to blame. That is my point exactly.
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SheCodes,

That's true, you Black women are socialized to think they should be sexual on demand.

And that's all I'm saying that the I think the numbers are hyped regarding men on the DL.
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ClnMike,

"The myth is not that DL do not exist, the myth is that they are one, in such massive numbers that they effect the black community in this way and that two, they are one of the main modes of the spread of HIV."


That is exactly what I'm saying.
___________________________________

FL,

I agree that self-loathing is a definite contributing factor in the epidemic.

African America needs to work on its collective self-esteem.
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Curious said...

Hey MDC,

I wasn't going to comment on your post the first time I read it because I know I couldn't do it justice but since that hasn't stopped anyone else, I just have to say that HIV/Aids is transmitted by only 2 ways, unprotected sex and blood and genital secretions from one body to another. Neither person needs to be Gay, DL or and ex-convict to be touched by the Aids virus. In fact in Africa which has enormous Aids problem, the vast majority of the cases are straight people who have never had any sort of homosexual encounters. Aids is not a gay disease. It is a disease that has hit the gay community very hard in this country and needs to be treated seriously.

One way would be for people to look after and protect themselves very carefully, no matter who they sleep with.

Lady Di said...

Bring back the chastity belt. Hence the main reason I fear getting involved with a man at this age. I think I would cut some parts off if I contracted anything I didn't come in this world with. Every time they show that commercial with the two people multiplying into many more people that each have dealt with, it pushes me further away from the "games" of today. DL, prison pal, whatever... I treat my body like a temple. Whomever come near it must worship it with the things 'Fat Lady' has stated. Nuff said. He might have to bring the dust buster on his visit but I know what I'm working with.

And you know what else is nasty? When celebrities (especially men) start bragging/confessing who many chicks they'd been with BECAUSE it was there. Far worse, the CHICKS that put themselves in those positions and WANT TO BE IN THEM. They will sleep with the entire band/crew/team to get to the star. Sad, very sad.

roslynholcomb said...

Shecodes I had three clients who were HIV+ and underage. The youngest was twelve. All three contracted it from a man who was 30+. One girl had sex with the man because he paid her family's light bill.

You can go through any low income black neighborhood in this country and see these predators stalking our children. It is literally an epidemic, and no one is doing anything about it. It's almost impossible to get the parents to press charges. Oftentimes they're benefitting financially from the 'relationship.'

IMO, this is one of the greatest problems facing our 'community'––the sexual exploitation of our young girls.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Curious,

I agree with you. My point was that women may be looking in the wrong places in terms of who they are being intimate with.

Since Oprah did that show with that King person people have really run with the DL thing.

I do however think that the ex-inmate population is very large and that that population may be having an impact on new cases of HIV/ AIDS.

My post was not meant to be an indictment of any population.

I really just hope that people will not let bias toward a certain group blind them to high risk behaviors.
___________________________________

Lady Di,

I agree about the celebs. Also all of those shows on daytime TV about women having DNA tests to find out who is the father of their children send a really dangerous message.

Curious said...

MDC,

If it seemed that I came down hard, I apologize. That was not my intention. I didn't mean to accuse anyone of anything.

What you said in your post for the most part is true. I agree with it. There is as you say a large proportion of ex felons who have been infected with the virus and maybe even men on the DL too. But women, in fact everyone, needs to assume that whoever they are with maybe infected. You may think the person that you are with now is safe, but how much do you know about the person he or she was with before or the person that person was with.

I just wish that more women would take a more positive responsibilty for their own protection.

I asked a friend once, and I don't know why I was so personal, about how she was behaving with her new boyfriend. She said she was being safe, she was using the pill. I was upset then, but she didn't understand. Now she has to take a lot more pills just to stay alive.
True, I don't know how she got sick, each one accuses the other of giving it to them and who really knows the truth anyway.

I guess what I am trying to say is in order for black women to cease being the fastest growing group for HIV, they must protect themselves because I'm not sure anyone else can.

And that my friend is really what I'm trying to say. Again sorry for before.

Jackie said...

Excellent post MDC. I agree that the DL is not the main reason for the rise in HIV/AIDS. Prison is a huge cause along with all the factors brought up in the comments.
The black church, especially the evangelical church, has it's role in this epidemic also. Homophobia has it's roots there. The fear of coming out or fear of being labled gay make people afraid to use protection, get tested or even go for treatment. Fortunately, it seems that some churches are progressing away from the AIDS is a punishment crap, to be more tolerant and HIV/AIDS knowledgable.
Lady Di hit a nerve when she mentioned shows like Maury Povich with the DNA testing. She is absolutly right! These shows encourage unprotected sex. They never mention that having multiple partners also carry the threat of disease. Ridiculously irresponsible shows aimed at glorifying irresponsible behavior.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Curious,

I just wanted to be clear about the intent of the post.

I think overall you and I are in agreement.
_____________________________________

Jackie,

Oh my, those TV shows and celebs like Eddie Murphy and P Diddy are sending such a dangerous message.

It's really distressing that young people are seeing that stuff with little balance.

I also agre that part of the churches legacy is adding fuel to the HIV/ AIDS fire by preaching hate instead of responsibility.

tasha212 said...

MDC,

Sorry I took so long to answer your question. The term "trade" is black gay colloquialism for a black man who is strait to the outside world but sleeps with men on the side. They aren't "bisexual" technically because they don't consider their occasional dip into the anus to be homosexual behavior. There's also another technical term used for this behavior, called "MSM" or men sleepintg with men. They have another term for men who actually claim their bisexuality.

browngirl said...

mdc, this was a really interesting perspective on the supposed "source" or the supposed epidemic of HIV/AIDS in the Black community. but i have to agree with clnmike. i think everyone should be considered high risk. even young people claimimg their virginity is still in tact are suspect b/c so many of them are playing around w/ oral sex and deeming it "not real sex". crazy! i also think many of these statistics concerning this issue and many others are something else to keep folks distracted and chasing our own tails. b/c that'
s all it is, chasing our own tails, b/c, again, we're all susceptible to the disease and all capable of spreading it.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Tasha,

Thanks; I've never heard that before.

_____________________________________

Browngirl,

There ae really girls who go around cliaming they are virgins when they aren't?

Can't the guys tell if they aren't? But I guess it's too late at that point.

I agree it's about personal responsibility.
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About Me

West Coast, United States
African American, Poet?, Vegetarian, Music lover, Agoraphobic, Social Phobic

My Favorite Poet

My Favorite Poet
Staceyann Chin

My Favorite Track Athlete

My Favorite Track Athlete
Christine Arron