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Framing gender identity and sexual orientation: media influence on young men who have sex with men’s health

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Sex education takes place in a wide range of contexts including through the media. Media use among young men who have sex with men is high and gender identity and sexual orientation are topics often integrated into today’s media. Little is known about young men who have sex with men’s perceptions of how the media frames messages about gender identity and sexual orientation and the implications these messages have on HIV prevention. A greater understanding of young men who have sex with men’s perceptions of media framing about gender identity and sexual orientation is needed to ensure prevention efforts reach those most impacted by HIV. Focus groups were conducted with forty-two African American men who have sex with men, aged 18–21, living in the Southeastern USA. Thematic analysis revealed that participants reported using the Internet and television to access gender identity and sexual orientation information. Participants felt that the media’s framing of gender identity and sexual orientation only worsened HIV-related stigma and discrimination. Findings illustrate the important role that media can play in educating about gender identity and sexual orientation and the implications this framing has for HIV prevention.
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Keywords: HIV prevention; Media; gender identity; sexual orientation; young men who have sex with men

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: ICF, Health, Research, Informatics and Technology Division, Atlanta, GA, USA 2: Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA

Publication date: September 3, 2019

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