Men’s Issues

Down Low (DL)

The Down Low or DL is a term most widely understood to mean keeping some information or activity private, or down low. It is also often used to describe the behavior of men who have sex with other men as well as with women, but do not consider themselves as gay or bisexual. Instead, they may refer to themselves as on the down low, on the DL, or on the low low.

Although the practices of bisexual men are not unique to African-American men, the Down Low term is probably most often used regarding African-American men because it reportedly originated in the African-American community. However, there is an unknown, but significant, number of Hispanic and White men who are also on the Down Low/bisexual.

While it is known that some heterosexual women have become infected with HIV through sexual contact with bisexual men, the extent is not really known. For example, some heterosexual women develop HIV infection from bisexual men who also inject drugs.

Because the extent to which being on the Down Low may be related to the significant increase in HIV infection among African-American women in recent years is unknown, much more research is needed regarding this issue. CDC is currently collaborating in the conduct of several projects related to HIV-related risk practices in men, including men who refer to themselves as on the Down Low.