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July 24, 2008

MSM at Risk by Keeping Secret From Doctors

A survey of New York City men who have sex with men (MSM) found that 39 percent did not tell their doctors their sexuality, The New York Times reports (nytimes.com 7/23).

The New York City Department of Health survey revealed that the men who told their doctors about their sexuality were twice as likely to have been tested for HIV as compared to the men who did not tell their doctors.

According to the survey, men who were 28 years old or older were more likely to disclose their sexual orientation than young men. Immigrants were less likely to do so than those born in the United States.

About three-quarters of the men in the survey who described themselves as bisexual were black and Latino. Of these men, not one had disclosed his sexual orientation to his doctor.

“There is a frequent phenomenon in the black community in which a man who is gay, by the conventional ways that we all know to identify somebody as gay, identifies himself as bisexual,” said Dr. Monica Sweeney, the assistant health commissioner for HIV prevention and control. “When the doctor initiates the subject, no matter how sensitive, most people talk about these things.”

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