Stigmatization, stress, and the search for belonging in Black men who have sex with men who use methamphetamine

Roy C. Jerome, Perry N. Halkitis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Black men who have sex with men (BMSM) continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. Methamphetamine use has been identified as a source of HIV risk in gay and bisexually identified men, yet the relationship between methamphetamine use and sexual risk among BMSM specifically remains unclear. The goal of this qualitative study was to investigate psychological, contextual, and developmental factors informing methamphetamine use and HIV risk behavior among a sample of heterosexual, gay, and bisexual BMSM (N = 52) in New York City. Methamphetamine use and sexual risk were associated with stress induced by stigmatization arising from and within larger dominant White gay culture, stigmatization incurred within the community, internalized homophobia, and stress induced by living under the shadow of the perceived inevitability of contracting HIV as BMSM. Methamphetamine use was associated with venues where participants could be sheltered from experiences of racism, homophobia, and dominant hegemonic images of Black masculinity, while exploring and developing same-sex desires, thereby instilling a sense of community belonging. Suggestions for culturally appropriate strategies for treating both methamphetamine use and HIV risk behaviors among BMSM are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-365
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Black Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Black men
  • HIV
  • MSM
  • Methamphetamine
  • Stigmatization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Applied Psychology


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