Perceived HIV Risk Among Black MSM Who Maintain HIV-Negativity in New York City


Black men who have sex with men (MSM) are disproportionately burdened by the HIV epidemic. Although there has been an increased focus on reducing HIV prevalence in Black MSM, little attention has been given to how and why Black MSM are able to remain HIV-negative, beyond believing that they are lucky. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how Black MSM try to stay HIV-negative. Guided by constructivist grounded theory and a strengths-based approach, we conducted in-depth interviews to explicate how Black MSM demonstrate resilience by staying seronegative amidst high seroprevalence. Results from this study suggest that it is their perceptions of HIV risk that translate into protective strategies that enable them to prevent infection. Our study offers insight into their reasoning processes that guide their efforts to stay HIV-negative.


Los hombres Afro-Americanos que tienen sexo con hombres (HAASH) son desaproporcionalmente afectados por la epidemia del VIH. Aunque ha habido un mayor enfoque en la reducción del VIH en HAASH, no se ha prestado tanta atención a los que son VIH negativos. Muchos HAASH son seronegativos y es importante identificar como siguen siéndolos a pesar de que HAASH crean que es por suerte. El propósito de este estudio cualitativo fue explorar como HAASH tratan de mantenerse VIH negativos. Guiados por “constructivist grounded theory” y un enfoque en las fortalezas, llevamos a cabo entrevistas individuales para explicar como pueden mantenerse seronegativos a pesar de una alta seroprevalencia. Los resultados de este estudio sugieren que sus percepciones del riesgo son los que se convierten en estrategias de protección que les permite prevenir la infección. Nuestro estudio ofrece información sobre sus procesos de razonamiento que guían sus esfuerzos para mantenerse VIH negativos.

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This research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number, R36 MH106357 (Principal Investigator, Jagadisa-devasri Dacus, Ph.D.) and by Award Number T32 MH019139 (Principal Investigator, Theodorus Sandfort, Ph.D.) from the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Sandfort’s contribution to this paper was supported by an NIMH center grant (P30-MH43520; Principal Investigator, Robert Remien, Ph.D.) The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of National Institute of Mental Health or the National Institutes of Health.

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Correspondence to Jagadisa-devasri Dacus.

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Dacus, Jd., Sandfort, T.G.M. Perceived HIV Risk Among Black MSM Who Maintain HIV-Negativity in New York City. AIDS Behav 24, 3044–3055 (2020).

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  • Black MSM
  • HIV-negative
  • Perceptions of risk
  • Strengths-based
  • Qualitative