Concern grows over spread of HIV by bisexual black men
BY LINDA VILLAROSA The New York Times: April 5, 2004

  HOUSTON - Once a week the five friends get together to eat sushi, sip wine and talk. But one recent afternoon, the women chose a different activity: They went to see “Not a Day Goes By,” a musical about black men on the “down low”
  To these women, it was a subject of increasing urgency.
  “Once I found out how prevalent the down low was in our community, I was very afraid,” said one of the women, Tracy Scott, 37.
  Her friend Misha King, 35, said she needed to get as much information as she could, as quickly as she could. Now, she says, “I treat every man as a bisexual because I don't want to end up as the sister with HIV”.
  In the past, concern about black women and AIDS was mainly directed to those who had used drugs or had had sex with known drug users. But increasingly, women such as Scott and her friends have begun to worry, too.
  In government studies of 29 states, a black woman was 23 times more likely to be infected with HIV than a white woman, and black women accounted for 71.8 percent of new HIV cases in women from 1999 to 2002. Though new infections of HIV among black women have remained stable in the past few years, the number of those who have been infected through heterosexual sex has risen.
  In 2001, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization focusing on health issues, an estimated 67 percent of black women with AIDS contracted HIV through heterosexual sex, compared with 58 percent four years earlier.
  Black women accounted for half of all HIV infections acquired through heterosexual sex in men or women from 1999 to 2002, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
  Though the rate of heterosexual transmission has risen for all women, researchers say a black woman has a greater chance of coming into contact with the virus when she has sex with another black person because, compared with the population at large, there is more HIV in the smaller population of black Americans.
  Recent studies suggest that 30 percent of all black bisexual men may be infected with HIV, and up to 90 percent of those men do not know. CDC researchers have referred to these men as a “bridge” to infection from gay men to heterosexual women.
  In February, health officials identified a fast-spreading outbreak of HIV infections among 84 men, primarily black students at 37 colleges in North Carolina. The majority were infected through sex with other men, but a third reported they had had sex with men and women.
  “What we learned from the research we did with college men here is the potential for HIV to enter the mainstream population of the black community,” said Dr. Peter Leone, medical director of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, who is working on prevention of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases and co-author of a study of the 84 men.
  “This is a big change and maybe a defining moment,” Leone added. “I don't mean to sound like Chicken Little, but if we don't react to this very quickly and aggressively, it'll be like the '80s all over again. Instead of gay white men, though, we'll be dealing with large numbers of young black men and their female partners.”
  HIV prevention efforts have generally focused on drug users and men who have sex with men. But the North Carolina findings among college men made it clear that HIV had the potential to spread to a wider circle of black Americans. In particular, the new research has alarmed many black women, who are trying to piece together information to figure out if men may have secret lives that are putting them at risk.
who, while not calling themselves gay or bisexual, have sex with other men, often behind the backs of their wives and girlfriends.