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Exploring and Adapting a Conceptual Model of Sexual Positioning Practices and Sexual Risk Among HIV-Negative Black Men Who Have Sex With Men

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Estimates show a 50% lifetime human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) risk among Black men who have sex with men (BMSM) in the United States(U.S.). Studying the dynamics of sexual positioning practices among BMSM could provide insights into the disparities observed among U.S. groups of men who have sex with men (MSM). This study explored sexual positioning dynamics among HIV-negative BMSM and how they aligned with a theoretical model of sexual positioning and HIV/sexually transmitted infection (STI) risk among MSM. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 29 HIV-negative BMSM between ages 25 and 35 in Los Angeles. Comments related to sexual behaviors were reviewed for relevance regarding oral or anal sexual positioning practices. Data presented represent the range of themes related to decision making regarding sexual positioning. Personal preference, partner attraction, HIV avoidance, and feeling obligated to practice partner preferences influenced sexual positioning. Drug use also affected decision making and was sometimes preferred in order to practice receptive anal intercourse. These variables build on the conceptual model of sexual positioning practices and sexual risk, and add understanding to the relationship between preferences, practices, and risk management. Future research on risk among HIV-negative BMSM should quantify the relative impact of personal preferences, partner attraction, partner type, compromise, and substance use on sexual positioning practices and risk.

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