In his article “Double Lives on the Down Low,” Denizet-Lewis gives a clear and vivid description of the prospects for the development of H.I.V. among black gay males. He formulates the importance of the problem logically and cites statistical data – one-third of the country’s HIV-positive black gay male population is not aware of their dangerous disease (Denizet-Lewis). However, the journalistic style of the article and its informality do not allow assessing the accuracy of the research. Frequent pathos reasoning implies the author’s personal and subjective ideas, which undermines the scientific seriousness of the article. Concerning logos, the concept of the down-low is described in detail with relevant historical background, and Denizet-Lewis traces the correlation between H.I.V. and non-traditional sexual orientation. Regarding ethos, the author remarks on the natural character and innateness of homosexuality among some individuals (Denizet-Lewis). Nevertheless, information could be given to the facts, such as in the article by Hammack et al., where they focus on the healthcare role in evaluating the issue (62). Therefore, starting from the analysis of the article, it can be described as a useful piece of caution but not as a valuable guideline.
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Threatening Infectious Statistics
The Percentage of Cases
Based on the statistics provided by the author, a significant percentage of the country’s black gay male population is affected by the problem of the spread of H.I.V. (Denizet-Lewis). The restrictions imposed by society are considered the limiting factor that influences the lack of education in the problem under consideration. As Denizet-Lewis argues, about one-third of black gay males who are the carriers of the virus are not aware of their status. Such statistics look frightening in the face of increasing numbers of men with non-traditional sexual orientation.
The author compares statistics in urban and rural regions of the country, which is a valuable practice due to the need to determine the degree of preventive work in certain areas (Denizet-Lewis). According to the findings, 90% of the urban black gay male population is not aware that they are carriers of the virus (Denizet-Lewis). This fact indicates the significant relevance of the chosen topic and its implication for society.
The Ratio of White and Black Gay Male Populations
When comparing the ratio of the black and white gay male population, the author insists that, despite the race, there are representatives of non-traditional sexual minorities in both communities (Denizet-Lewis). He highlights that among African Americans, the number of openly gay people is significantly smaller due to the stereotypes imposed by society (Denizet-Lewis). However, interracial contacts among males exist, and this clarification is valuable from the standpoint of the cultural and ethical background of the problem.
Causes of the Virus Spread
Unprotected Sex as the Main Reason
Regarding the issue of the spread of H.I.V. among the target audience, unprotected sex is considered the major deteriorating factor. Denise-Lewis argues that the limited knowledge of the problem and its possible consequences is a key criterion affecting the continuous growth of infected people. As a result, the number of black gay males with H.I.V. is increasing, and the predominant mode of transmission is sexual.
The Fear of Public Censure
Denise-Lewis mentions public censor as one of the factors driving black gay males to lead a hidden life in accordance with the low down concept. He notes these people’s “fear of reprisal” and remarks that, despite the change of views in recent years, the problem of condemnation still exists. The fact that this question is raised allows determining the attitude of society towards the manifestation of homosexuality and reinforces the importance of the issue.
Double Life Undercover
Regarding the concerns of the target population, the author cites evidence, mentioning special clubs that black gay males attend and meet with like-minded people (Denizet-Lewis). At the same time, according to the findings, many of these people lead a double life, thereby manifesting their bisexuality. Accordingly, not only the gay population is affected but also the supporters of heterosexual relationships who intend to hide their unconventional inclinations.
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Infecting More People
One of the main research questions related to the spread of the virus is confirmed by expert opinions. As Denizet-Lewis states, “blacks make up only 12 percent of the population in America, but they account for half of all newly reported H.I.V. infections.” Such dynamics are alarming, and special attention to this issue is logical since, regardless of public opinions, a large number of new H.I.V. carriers appear annually.
Ignorance Causes Epidemics
Although Denizet-Lewis remarks that “not all DL men ignore the health threat,” a large number of black gay males do not realize the danger. Homosexual sex is the key cause of H.I.V., while a large percentage of contacts are unprotected. Denise-Lewis emphasizes the urgency of the problem in prisons where the number of African Americans exceeds the white population and insists on drawing attention to the threat of the epidemic.
Healthcare Cannot Control All the Cases.
Despite the efforts of individual medical communities, at the moment, the prospects for the development of H.I.V. among the target population are disappointing. Even before the issue of the epidemic was not disclosed massively, insufficiently effective preventive measures were taken. According to Denise-Lewis, “the public health community made a lot of mistakes and gave out a lot of wrong information.” Therefore, even in the case of total medical professionals’ involvement, the elimination of the epidemic consequences will take time due to an inability to control all cases of infection.
Prevention is the Key Tool of Combating H.I.V.
Volunteer Organizations and Black AIDS Agencies Assistance
Despite the fact that Denizet-Lewis points to prevention as one of the essential components of healthcare guidance, no important facts regarding this issue are given. For instance, Hammack et al. note that volunteer support and the involvement of relevant organizations dealing with the African-American population can be valuable practices (66). However, in the article under consideration, there are no weighty arguments in favor of this approach, which is its limitation.
Special Educational Materials
The importance of education for the target population is emphasized, and relevant findings in this area are cited. Denise-Lewis mentions the example of the open black male community and argues that sticking together and receiving certain materials help reduce the risk of being infected with H.I.V. The availability of educational resources is also considered by Hammack et al., and in the context of the problem under consideration, the researchers hold the same position.
Supporting the Fight Against Homophobia
The author of the article makes a judgment that the black community adhering to traditional sexual orientation is too homophobic. According to Denise-Lewis, “AIDS researchers point to shame and stigma as two of the driving forces spreading AIDS in America.” Consequently, joint efforts aimed at fighting for the equality of black gay males among society should involve not only the target audience but also other sectors of society to reduce the tendency of H.I.V. infection. This issue is covered by Denizet-Lewis, which is the strength of the article.
The objectives of Denizet-Lewis’s work are to describe the lifestyle conditions that the black gay male population of the U.S. faces, as well as to determine the prospects for the development of H.I.V. among this target group. Despite the fact that this problem is quite acute and to study it, essential research is required with statistical analyzes, the author resorts to a journalistic style intentionally (Denizet-Lewis). This approach suggests that the context of writing, in particular, a newspaper article, should not contain exclusively scholarly information. Accordingly, the target audience for which this text is intended includes ordinary readers who should familiarize themselves with the issue and learn the examples of specific cases. In this framework, the chosen topic looks too serious. However, along with emotional digressions and personal reasoning, Denizet-Lewis formulates the spectrum of the problem and its implications for society logically. The final task to determine the pattern of H.I.V. spread among the black gay male population is achieved since corresponding statistics are cited, and some findings are discussed. Therefore, despite its freestyle, the scientific value of the article is preserved, and the work is a valuable guideline.
Based on the critical analysis of Denizet-Lewis’ article, it can be noted that this work is a rather valuable resource of information about the concept of the down-low among the U.S. black gay male population. Some limitations have been found, for instance, a large number of personal reasoning and emotional statements, which reduces the academic strength of the study. Nevertheless, many valuable topics are affected, and the article can be used as a guideline for useful interventions.
Denise-Lewis, Benoit. “Double Lives on the Down Low.” New York Times Magazine, 2003.
Hammack, Phillip L., et al. “Gay Men’s Health and Identity: Social Change and the Life Course.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 47, no. 1, 2018, pp. 59-74.