Black Gay Men 16 Times More Likely To Contract HIV Despite Less Risky Sexual Behavior

A new study released by Northwestern University investigates HIV rates within the intersection of gay and black men.

The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, was conducted on 1015 black MSM (men who have sex with other men) between the ages of 16 and 29 and live in Chicago. These men were asked about their drug use, social/sexual behavior, and their psychological states.

The data found that young black men are 16 times more likely to contract HIV than their young white gay peers. Specifically, the rate of HIV infections is 32% and the rate of rectal sexually transmitted infections is 26.5%. This is despite the fact that young black men report lower rates of sexual risk behaviors, fewer sexual partners, and more lifelong HIV testing.

"We have known from prior studies that this paradox exists—black young men who have sex with men engage in fewer risk behaviors but have a much higher rate of HIV diagnosis," said senior study author Brian Mustanski, PhD, who teaches at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine and is also the director of the Northwestern Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing. "Our study illuminates how HIV disparities emerge from complex social and sexual networks and inequalities in access to medical care for those who are HIV positive."

This new data comes at a time when health experts are focusing on the HIV rates within the black community. Many health experts want young black men to get HIV tests more regularly. But with this new study saying HIV rates are high despite regular testing, that earlier advice may not work.

The researchers at Northwestern University suggest that the real problem lies within social networks.

“Overall, young black MSM do not report higher rates of HIV risk behaviors like condomless sex," study coauthor Ethan Morgan, PhD, remarked. "But aspects of their social networks align with increased HIV risk. By learning more about young black MSM's social networks, we can better understand what drives such persistent racial disparities in HIV—and close that gap."

"Their social and sexual networks are more dense and interconnected, which from an infectious disease standpoint makes infections transmitted more efficiently through the group," Dr. Mustanski added. "That, coupled with the higher HIV prevalence in the population, means any sexual act has a higher chance of HIV transmission."

NYU Study Suggests Tops And Bottoms Prefer Different Methods For Taking PrEP

Add this one to the list of interesting study findings. It looks like tops and bottoms like to take PrEP different ways.

When most people hear the words PrEP, they most likely think of the drug in its pill form. But, that’ll so be only one way in which the drug can be taken. Clinical trials are currently ongoing for long-acting injections of PrEP where getting a single shot every 8-12 weeks will suffice as support. In addition, there are studies going on for PrEP creams which can be applied to either the anus or the penis.

Curious about how these different methods would be applied by gay men, PhD student William Goedel gathered together a team of researchers from New York University and the University of Chicago.

The team collected data from 482 HIV-negative MSM (men who have sex with men) and published the data in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

The study titled, “Are Anal Sex Roles Associated with Preference for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Administration Modalities Among Men Who Have Sex With Men?” surveying how the men would like to take their PrEP. The options were daily use, event-driven use (in which MSM use PrEP during seasonal times when they have sex and think they are at risk), PrEP shots, or PrEP cream.

The study’s results found that 31.7% of respondents would prefer whichever method was most effective. Then, 21.8% of respondents chose the injection, 11.0% chose event-driven pills, 8.3% chose the cream applied to the penis, 6.6% chose the cream applied to the anus, and 4.8% chose the daily pills.

But that’s not all. Geodel and his fellow researchers wanted to know if sexual roles had any affect on the data. They  then decided to split and categorize the data by three groups (tops, bottoms, and versatile men).

Those results found that tops preferred the cream applied to the penis with 19.6% choosing so over 4.6% bottoms and vers men. Meanwhile, 32.9% of bottoms preferred the injection and only 15.4% of tops and vers men agreed.

That said, most of these PrEP methods are far from becoming accessible to the general audience and even further from being affordable for them. As such, we’ll only have to guess whether this study's data is correct or not.

New Study Created Healthy Mice Offspring From Two Same-Sex Parents

Researchers are using mice to decipher the natural laws of mammal reproductions. The latest research on this topic had a massive breakthrough.

According to Forbes, scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences conducted a study to find out the challenges that have stopped mammals of the same-sex from being able to reproduce. More specifically, they were wondering why mammals are forced to reproduce through sexual reproduction when other species can reproduce by themselves or by changing their own sex.

"Although animals have 3 different reproduction modes, termed as asexual reproduction, unisexual reproduction and sexual reproduction, mammals can only undergo sexual reproduction. We were interested in the question of why mammals can only undergo sexual reproduction." said Qi Zhou, a senior author of the paper (which was published in Cell Stem Cell).

The results of the study created healthy mice from two mothers that were then able to produce healthy offspring themselves.

The way that they got those results was to use embroyonic stem cells (ESCs), which were haploid meaning they had half of the genetic material of a normal cell. This was to reflect the sperm or egg that a single parent would create.

Those ESCs were then altered through gene editing and then injected into the egg of a different female mouse.

After creating 210 embryos, the scientists were able to produce 29 healthy mice offspring. These 29 mice were able to mature properly and produce healthy offspring on their own.

That said, this is only the first stage in the research process for these scientists. The reserachers now plan to go back and dissect the imprinting modifications to ensure the survival of the offspring and any future generations.

After hearing of this research, there will surely be pushback and outrage. Many will claim that this research is playing with the laws of nature, but there are many reasons that the scientists are conducting the research. The first reason is to understand more about the reason mammals can’t asexually or unisexually reproduce. Then, there are potential benefits like understanding how to prevent infertility.

"One reason is to understand better how fertilization and embryonic development work. That could help understand and prevent some forms of infertility, as well as understanding (perhaps) the origins of some congenital diseases," said Hank Greely, Director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences and Professor of Law at Stanford University.

That said, LGBTQ readers may see another reason to support this research. It could eventually (and we’re talking decades here) “lead to the development of ways for same-sex couples to reproduce healthy children of their own,” according to Dr. Teresa Holm, a member of the University of Auckland’s Molecular Medicine and Pathology department.

Of course, she also told Telegraph that there are “significant ethical and safety concerns that would need to be overcome.”

While this is alarming and surprising news, it could lead to greater advances in health and fertility amongst humans. But, it will most assuredly cause controversy and conflict as well.

h/t: Forbes, Telegraph

Study Focusing On Bisexual People Shows Hidden Issues With Health, Poverty, And Discrimination

A new report by the Center for American Progress (otherwise known as CAP) revealed that bisexual people face poverty, mental health issues, and identity issues at higher degrees than their lesbian and gay peers.

The study was conducted with the belief that there isn’t enough data out there concerning just bisexual people. Instead, bisexual people are often tied together with their gay and lesbian peers. Yet, the bisexual experience is unique and different from these two groups.

As such, CAP conducted a survey in which it asked questions of 1,864 LGBTQ adults (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender, queer, asexual) and 1,007 heterosexual and cisgender/nontransgender adults.

Once the data was collected, the results were specifically separated by groups defined by sexuality. This is how CAP was able to compare the results concerning bisexual people to their heterosexual and homosexual peers.

As for the results, they found that bisexual+ people, as pansexual and queer people who have experienced attraction to more than one sex were merged with bisexual respondents, reported several unfortunate circumstances.

First, Bi+ men were four times as likely to report living in poverty compared to straight men. The numbers surmounted to 24% Bi+ men reporting a life in poverty, 12% gay men, and 6% straight men. Meanwhile, Bi+ women were at 21%, 13% of lesbians reported the same, and 14% of straight women also reported as such.

In addition, Bi+ women were less likely to report that they were currently working. 53% of bi women said so while 76% of lesbian said they were employed, and 65% of straight women said the same. For the men, the numbers were a little closer with Bi+ men at 65%, Gay men at 70%, and Straight men at 78%.

In addition, Bi+ women were more likely to use public benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid than their straight and lesbian peers. 27% and 21% of Bi+ women said they were using SNAP and Medicaid respectively while only 10% of Lesbians said they were using either program. Also, 10% and 16% of Straight women said they were using SNAP and Medicaid.

Sadly, the news doesn’t end there as Bi+ men reported worse mental health outcomes than straight men and bi+ women reported experiencing poorer physical and mental health outcomes than straight women and lesbians combined.

Lastly, the study shared the fact that bisexual erasure plays a part in the poor experiences of bisexual people too. While bisexual people with a partner of a different gender may not experience discrimination in the way that their gay or lesbian peers do, they experience bisexual erasure through feelings of shame or isolation.

It is important to note that the data found in this survey is not statistically significant because of the sample size. That said, they give an idea into a community that is often erased or combined with other groups.

What’s really important about this survey is the fact that it teaches us to separate bisexual people from the rest of the LGBTQ community when it comes time to research. Their responses and experiences are unique enough to warrant individual attention.

New Study Debunks Myth About Predators in Transgender Bathrooms

The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law has published a new study that debunks the “transgender predator” myth. This myth is the concern put forth by transphobic people that providing an equal access to public accommodations will lead to sexual assault and the loss of an expectation of private. In this study, researchers were unable to find any evidence that sexual predators take advantage of laws supporting transgender equality.

Anti-LGBTQ+ organizations such as the American Family Association were putting forth these claims, none of which could be confirmed. The lead researcher for this new study, Brian Barnett, discovered just how rare these instances are and said:

“We found only one instance, one, of a transgender perpetrator in an alleged sex crime in a changing room. Likewise, we found just one case where a man who, frankly, sounds like provocateur, allegedly entered a woman’s locker room without disguising his gender in any way and stated that a new local law expanding transgender bathroom access allowed him to be there.” -Barnett for a Huffington Post editorial

The conservative groups arguing against these equality laws have cited over 100 possible cases but the majority of these cases involve non-transgender men who are simply violating women’s spaces. Allowing access to these spaces for actual transgender people has no effect on the men who already intended to enter these spaces.

Currently, only 19 states and Washington D.C. that currently allow transgender people access to public accommodations. When covering this topic, CNN reached out to 20 law enforcement agencies in states with anti-discrimination policies and none reported any bathroom assaults after the policies took effect.

h/t: Huffington Post, CNN, The Hill

Study Finds That More Than 1% of 9-10 Year Olds Might Be LGBTQ+


JAMA Pediatrics recently published a new study that explored how children aged 9-10 felt about their sexuality and gender. Jerel Calzo and Aaron Blashill from San Diego State University used data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study ABCD. The ABCD is an initiative by the National Institute of Health that recruited 7500 children at ages 9-10 and will follow them into their young adulthood.

Data from ABCD was released earlier this year and gave a profile for the first 4519 participants in the study.

The results show that 0.2% of the participants said that they were bi or gay and that 0.1% said they were transgender. These children provided definite answers to the best of their knowledge.

The results for the children that were uncertain showed that another 0.7% said that they were “maybe” gay or bi and 0.4% said that they were “maybe” transgender.

The numbers for “yes” and “maybe” answers were added together since the researchers wanted to show “probable” numbers rather than definite numbers. When added together, 1.26% were found to probably be gay, bi, or transgender.

Out of all participants, only 23.8% of the 9 and 10 year olds said that they did not understand the question. This statistic shows that most kids (76.2%) that age already possess an understanding of what sexual orientation is, even if they are straight.

The study also surveyed the parents and found that 6.7% of their parents thought their child “might” be gay or bi while another 1.2% thought their child “might” be transgender.

On the study, Blashill from SDSU said:

“For so long, social scientists have assumed that there is no point in asking kids at this age about their sexual orientation, believing they do not have the cognitive ability to understand. This is the first study to actually ask children about their sexual orientation this young.”

h/t: lgbtqnation.com, CDC

Hostile Fights With Your Partner Could Make You Sick, Says New Survey

A new study says that fighting with our partners can cause repercussions to our health.

The study was conducted by Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center and led by Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, the director of the center’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. Helping her was Michael Bailey, who works for the institute and The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Together, the two had the study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, according to Eureka Alert.

The study was conducted on 42 married couples, whether there were any same-sex couples included in that group was not detailed so we're guessing not.

Each couple was asked to privately discuss and hopefully resolve a conflict while being recorded for 20-minutes. These conflicts touched on topics such as money, in-laws, and more.

After each discussion, the couple’s video was watched to categorize their verbal and non-verbal behavior. Plus, the researchers tested the blood levels of participants before and after the fight.

The results showed that partners who were more hostile in behavior also had higher levels of a biomarker caused by leaky gut. This condition weakens the intestines and allows bacteria to enter the blood stream.

“Men and women who demonstrated more hostile behaviors during the observed discussions had higher levels of one biomarker for leaky gut — LPS-binding protein — than their mellower peers. Evidence of leaky gut was even greater in study participants who had particularly hostile interactions with their spouse and a history of depression or another mood disorder,” explains Eureka Alert.

“Marital stress is a particularly potent stress, because your partner is typically your primary support and in a troubled marriage your partner becomes your major source of stress,” Kiecolt-Glaser wrote.

It seems that more intense and hostile fighting between couples can cause wound healing to slow down and increase the risk of inflammation-related disease such as depression, heart disease, and diabetes.

While researchers are still investigating this link, they also gave tips on how to live healthier lives. They suggested healthier eating, probiotics, and calmer conversations with your partner.

h/t: Eureka Alert

New Vanderbilt University Study Says Gay Marriage Increases Gay And Bi Men's Access to Health

A new study conducted by Vanderbilt University found that same-sex marriage led to "significant increases" in gay and bi men's access to care and health insurance coverage.

The study, which was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, was a combination of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System between the years of 2000 and 2016. 

But how did they know which households in the data belonged to same-sex couples? Well as Vanderbilt’s Research News reports, the CDC data didn’t ask respondents about their sexual orientation. As such, the Vanderbilt researchers deduced from earlier data that a percentage of adults in households of two were same-sex couples.

Christopher Carpenter, a professor of economics at Vanderbilt, led the research team consisting of researchers from several different departments like the department of health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and the departments of economics at Vanderbilt. In addition, Carpenter was the lead author on the paper.

According to the Advocate, the data showed that a man in a same-sex household is 4.2 percent more likely to have health insurance and 7.3 percent more likely to have received an annual checkup.

As for women in same-sex households, there seemed to be no significant difference. That said, researchers say this is probably the fault of the data and its limitations.

Another surprise in the data was the fact that despite the increase in access to health insurance and health care, there were no effects to the actual health in the populations.

“For example, mental health was not improved, and there were no changes in negative health behaviors such as cigarette smoking or heavy drinking,” said co-author Gilbert Gonzales said. “That might mean that it’s too soon to see some of these changes, since legalized, same-sex marriage is a fairly recent phenomenon in the United States.”

While some of the data was limited, Carpenter says it was still incredibly important to collect and report on.

 “This is an important question to study, since recent research has shown that LGBT individuals often face barriers to accessing health services including lack of insurance, stigma, and discrimination, and, as a result, can experience poor health outcomes,” said Christopher Carpenter, “A very large body of research in economics and sociology demonstrates that marriage is protective for health for heterosexual individuals, but ours is the first to show that marriage policy has meaningful effects on health care access for sexual-minority men.”

The next step for these researchers is to analyze more comprehensive data to find out if there was any effect to health that couldn’t be found in this batch of data.

h/t: Vanderilt Reserach News, The Advocate

Missouri Professor With 3,600 Penis Pic Study Calls It Quits

Yesterday, we shared with you the story of Missouri State University professor Alicia Walker.

Walker launched a study on June 18 to research the relationship between penis size and self-esteem. Walker also hoped to then see how that affected other aspects of men’s lives like their social interaction and sexual activity.

In just the week and half since then, Walker has seen a lot of information coming in about the negative effects perceived penis size can have on self-esteem.

“I’ve spoken to men who have been suicidal because of their anxiety and unhappiness with their size or perceived size,” Walker told the New York Post. “We need to be talking about men’s body dysmorphia, and the way our society worships size and the way that worship impacts men.”

While the main part of the study focused on an online survey and interviews to gain a sense of the male participants’ perspectives, there was one other aspect to the study.

Walker asked the willing participants to send her pictures of their erect and flaccid penises. This was to make sure that the men were correctly measuring their equipment and not skewing the data.

While Alicia Walker originally hoped to receive photos from 3,600 men within the ages of 22 and older, she later decided to end the study early.

Walker’s reasoning for this sudden end to her research is due to the mass media coverage of the study. From Men’s Health and the New York Post to local news blogs like the Riverfront Times, many new sources covered the story of Alicia Walkers work and she feels this has compromised the study.

“I made this decision voluntarily,” Walker said in a university press release. “I continue to believe the relationship between penis size and self-esteem is an important site of scientific inquiry, but the public reaction to the project threatens the reliability of the survey responses. The reliability of the study as a whole has been compromised.”

But what happened to the few hundred penis photos Walker has already received? Well, Missouri State assured that all of the submitted photos were previously stored in a “secure research database” and have already been destroyed.

New Study Shows No Difference In Outcome of Children Raised By Gay Parents Or Straight Parents

A new study by Italian scientists says that the psychological adjustment in children of same-sex parents is the same for kids of heterosexual parents.

Professor Roberto Baiocco, PhD, and several of his colleagues from Sapienza University of Rome have conducted a survey to see the difference in how children grow up depending on whether their parents are gay men, lesbian women, or a straight couple.

The Study, titled With Same-Sex or Different-Sex Parents, Child Outcomes Linked to Family Functioning, was published by Wolters Kluwer and appears in the Journal of Development & Behavioral Pediatrics.

The study included 70 gay fathers who had children through surrogacy, 125 lesbian mothers who had children through donor insemination, and 195 heterosexual couples who had children through spontaneous conception. In addition, the children were between the ages of 3 to 11 years old.

After obtaining the participants, the scientists split them up into three groups which were categorized by “child characteristics.”

From there, parents were asked a series of questions based on their ability to act successfully as a parent (self-agency), extent of agreement/adjustment between parents, family functioning, and the child's psychological adjustment which the scientists defined as their “strengths and difficulties.”

The results of the study found that there was no major differences between the psychological adjustment of children in any of the groups of families, and scores were in the normal range for all.

In fact, the study found that children of same-sex parents had slightly fewer reported difficulties than children of heterosexual parents.

Plus, gay fathers especially showed some better indicators of family functioning than lesbian and straight couples. Professor Baiocco suggests that this may be because of the high level of commitment needed for gay men to become parents via surrogacy. He also noted that the gay fathers were older, economically better off, better educated, and had more stable relationships than the other two groups.

Lastly, Professor Baiocco and coauthors wanted to express that these results have special significance in Italy where same-sex couples cannot legally access assisted reproduction techniques.

"The present study warns policy-makers against making assumptions on the basis of sexual orientation about people who are more suited than others to be parents or about people who should or should not be denied access to fertility treatments."