HIV prevention efforts have given limited attention to the influence of social norms on the process of communicating about safer sex practices among heterosexual Black men. To address this and inform the development of an HIV prevention behavioral intervention for heterosexual African American men, we conducted computerized, structured interviews with 61 men living in high HIV prevalence neighborhoods in New York City to participate in either one of the five focus group interviews and/or an in-depth qualitative interview. Participants had a mean age of 33 years, 25% held less than a high school education, 66% earned an annual income of $10,000 or less, and 86% had a history of incarceration Qualitative analysis was used to identify emergent themes within the domains of condom use communication, HIV status disclosure with sexual partners, and general HIV knowledge among peers. Thematic analyses revealed that communication was hindered by (1) low perception of risk of sex partners (2) relationship insecurities and (3) HIV stigma within the community and between sex partners. Most communication related to condom use was based on their perception of their sex partner’s HIV risk and fear of contracting HIV and/or a partner’s reaction to proposing or using condoms. Discussions related to HIV status elicited concerns of being labeled as HIV-positive or leading to unprotected sex. Communication among peers was rare due in part to the stigma of HIV in the Black community. Effective HIV interventions for heterosexual should include communication strategies that address the cultural norms that influence safe sex practices.


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pp. 1-23
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