Heterosexual men are affected by HIV
HIV is a concern for heterosexual men, as almost 14% of new male HIV cases in 2016 occurred among heterosexuals, through sex with a woman (9.5%) and injecting drug use (3.9%). Most of those cases were among Black (63%) and Latino (22%) men, and men living in the Southeast (62%) and Northeast (19%) of the US.
These statistics, however, may not give us an accurate picture of HIV among heterosexual men. Because sexuality is complex, some heterosexually-identified men may have sex with men, but still identify as straight. The CDC tracks HIV infections through means of infection, not by a person’s identity. Therefore, a heterosexual man who tells his healthcare provider he ever had a sexual encounter with a man is categorized under “men who have sex with men,” and if he says he has ever injected a drug, is categorized under “people who inject drugs (PWID).”
Because of this, heterosexual men are seldom mentioned or addressed in the world of HIV prevention, care and research—where men are classified based on federal guidance and misconceptions, and not on men’s own identity. This may be helpful for tracking the HIV epidemic, but it hampers service organizations who want to serve straight men who are at risk for or living with HIV, because funding for programs is linked to mode of transmission.