Bisexual men are disproportionately affected by HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, according to a new study. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published the research in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. According to study author William Jeffries, bisexual men are facing unique sexual health challenges. Factors that may affect the sexual health include sex without condoms, forced sexual encounters, an increased number of sexual partners and attitudes toward pregnancy.
While the study notes HIV is less common in bisexual men than gay men, bisexuals are less likely to get tested for HIV which can increase the possibility of transmitting the virus to partners. In the US last year, 21% of bisexual men reported STD treatment compared to 12% for gay men and 2.3% of straight men. In the social climate, Jeffries says men who have sex with men and women (MSMW) face ‘several sociocultural obstacles’ including biphobia. Biphobia can manifest in erroneous beliefs that MSMW are gay men who have not disclosed their sexual orientation and, particularly for black men, responsible for HIV transmission to women,’ he said. ‘Experiencing these sentiments can contribute to MSMW’s social isolation and psychological distress, which in turn may promote HIV/STI risk through substance use, sexual risk behaviors, and the avoidance of prevention services.’
Jeffries said even though the percentage of bisexual men is small in his estimate, around 2% of the population, he says more research and outreach is needed to understand their sexual health. ‘Recognition of MSMW’s unique sexual and social experiences can lay the foundation necessary for ensuring that these men have healthy and fulfilling sexual experiences,’ he said. ‘Purposefully designed and tailored efforts for MSMW are indispensable for improving the sexual health of this vulnerable population.’