Health determinants in men of the Bear subculture compared with the MSM population. Literature review


A number of health problems are more common in the population of men who have sex with men (MSM) as compared with the general population. At the same time, research reveals that the MSM population is far from homogeneous, and that subcultural affiliation is one of the characteristics that should be taken into account in health analyses of this group. One of the subcultures among MSM that has received growing interest from researchers in recent years, is the Bear community. It originated in the USA and comprises men—mostly homosexual or bisexual—who are characterized by larger, massive or muscular figure, and by distinctive male phenotypic traits—especially body hair pattern, including facial hair. The most significant health determinants in this group include a higher prevalence of behaviors contributing to negative health outcomes as compared with other MSM, elevated BMI values, as well as exposure to multiple stigma – both sexual minority and weight stigma. Research to date has shown that these characteristics of Bears have significant implications for their mental and sexual health. The article aims to review the literature, and to discuss the practical and the clinical implications of the studies conducted thus far in this population. The summary gives practical recommendations regarding both the support for Bear men in clinical practice, and the design of adequate and effective health promotion interventions for members of this unique community.


Mijas M




  • Population(s)
    • Men who have sex with men
    • General HIV- population
  • Health Systems
    • Governance arrangements
    • Delivery arrangements


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