Reconciling Epidemiology and Social Justice in the Public Health Discourse Around the Sexual Networks of Black Men Who Have Sex With Men

Authors:

Derrick D. Matthews
Justin C. Smith
Andre L. Brown
David J. Malebranche

Abstract:

Several studies have implicated the sexual networks of Black men who have sex with men (MSM) as facilitating disproportionally high rates of new HIV infections within this community. Although structural disparities place these networks at heightened risk for infection, HIV prevention science continues to describe networks as the cause for HIV disparities, rather than an effect of structures that pattern infection. We explore the historical relationship between public health and Black MSM, arguing that the current articulation of Black MSM networks is too often incomplete and counterproductive. Public health can offer a counternarrative that reconciles epidemiology with the social justice that informs our discipline, and that is required for an effective response to the epidemic among Black MSM.