Health disparities among gay men (HIV, substance use, depression) have been described as a mutually occurring “syndemic” that is socially produced through two overarching dynamics: marginalization and migration. Although the syndemic theory proposes a developmental trajectory, it has been largely based on epidemiological studies of adult gay men and has not been examined using qualitative data from gay male adolescents and emerging adults describing their developmental experience. We conducted interviews with 54 HIV-positive gay and bisexual male adolescents and emerging adults at four sites in the United States. This study provides examples of developmental trajectories that help explain the early onset of socially produced health disparities among some gay male adolescents and emerging adults, but also the development of risk factors that may follow some gay men into adulthood.
adolescent gay men; emerging adulthood; syndemic; health disparities; HIV
Introduction: Despite a recent focus on intimate partner violence (IPV) among men who have sex with men (MSM), the male-male couple is largely absent from the IPV literature. Specifically, research on dyadic factors shaping IPV in male-male couples is lacking.
Methods: We took a subsample of 403 gay/bisexual men with main partners from a 2011 survey of approximately 1,000 gay and bisexual men from Atlanta. Logistic regression models of recent (<12 month) experience and perpetration of physical and sexual IPV examined dyadic factors, including racial differences, age differences, and social network characteristics of couples as key covariates shaping the reporting of IPV.
Results: Findings indicate that men were more likely to report perpetration of physical violence if they were a different race to their main partner, whereas main partner age was associated with decreased reporting of physical violence. Having social networks that contained more gay friends was associated with significant reductions in the reporting of IPV, whereas having social networks comprised of sex partners or closeted gay friends was associated with increased reporting of IPV victimization and perpetration.
Conclusion: The results point to several unique factors shaping the reporting of IPV within male-male couples and highlight the need for intervention efforts and prevention programs that focus on male couples, a group largely absent from both research and prevention efforts.
Despite the moderate efficacy of HIV prevention interventions for at risk gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM), MSM continue to represent the largest group of new HIV infections and the largest number of individuals living with HIV in the US. Environmental factors such as sexual minority stress increase the vulnerability of MSM for mental health problems. These mental health problems can be a barrier to consistently engaging in self-care health behaviors such as sexual risk reduction. We consider the following observations critical to identifying priorities for HIV prevention among MSM: (1) gay, bisexual and other MSM have higher rates of mental health problems than general population estimates; (2) these mental health problems co-occur with each other and interact synergistically to increase HIV risk; and (3) comorbid mental health problems may compromise the impact of prevention programs, and integrating treatment of mental health issues into prevention programs may improve program efficacy. Novel prevention interventions for at risk MSM that integrate programming with the treatment of co-occurring and interfering mental health issues are the most promising avenue to increase prevention intervention efficacy and effectiveness. By addressing significant mental health issues and supporting broad based prevention efforts at the individual and community level, there is also the potential to improve the overall quality of life and public mental health of gay, bisexual, and other MSM.
Men who have sex with men; MSM; Syndemics; HIV prevention; Mental health
INTRODUCTION: Black men who have sex with men (MSM) and women but who do not identify as gay or disclose their bisexual activities to main female partners, also known as men "on the down-low," have been cited as the main reason for the increase in HIV infections in black women. METHODS: Three online databases (PsychInfo, MEDLINE and AIDSLINE) were searched for scientific articles related to men on the down-low. A total of 24 articles and two conference abstracts were selected for review. RESULTS: Data from existing studies of MSM reveal low agreement between professed sexual identity and corresponding sexual behavior among black and other MSM; show that black MSM are more likely than MSM of other racial or ethnic groups to be bisexually active or identified; and, compared with white MSM, are less likely to disclose their bisexual or homosexual activities to others. However, black MSM who do not disclose their homosexual or bisexual activities engage in a lower prevalence of HIV risks than black MSM who do disclose; and black men who are currently bisexually active account for a very small proportion of the overall population of black men (2%). CONCLUSION: The high prevalence of HIV in the black community and the greater likelihood of bisexuality among black men place heterosexual black women at risk for HIV infection. However, the contribution of high-risk heterosexual black men to the rising HIV caseload among black women has been largely ignored. Future research must evaluate the relative contributions of bisexual men and exclusively heterosexual black men to HIV cases among black women.
Using a sample of 482 ethnically diverse current substance using men who have sex with men (MSM) who reported recent unprotected anal intercourse (UAI), this study compared health risk behaviors – substance use and sexual HIV risk – and one health protective factor – prosocial activities - between men who live in a gay neighborhood and those who do not. Data are drawn from comprehensive health and social risk assessments administered in South Florida. In a multivariate logistic regression model, methamphetamine use, high rates of receptive UAI, and lower levels of prosocial engagement were found to be risk factors associated with gay neighborhood residence. Compared to living elsewhere, gay neighborhood residence appeared to be protective against cocaine use and substance dependence. Implications of the findings for prevention interventions are discussed, as is the need for further research regarding decisions about neighborhood residence and how neighborhood risk and protective factors emerge and are sustained.
MSM; neighborhoods; substance use; sex risk; risk factors
Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) have been among the most affected populations by HIV since the AIDS pandemic was first identified in the 1980s. Evidence from a wide range of studies show that these men remain at the highest risk for HIV acquisition in both developed and developing countries, and that despite three decades of evidence of their vulnerability to HIV, they remain under-served and under-studied. Prevention strategies targeted to MSM are markedly under-funded in most countries, leading to limited access to health services including prevention, treatment, and care. We explore the global epidemic among MSM in 2008, the limited funding available globally to respond to these epidemics, and the human rights contexts and factors which drive HIV spread and limit HIV responses for these men.
What do we mean by the term MSM? MSM is a construct from the 1990s that tries to capture behavior and not identity. It was crafted to avoid stigmatizing and culturally laden terms such as gay or bisexual, which do not capture the wide diversity of orientations, sexual practices, cultures, and contextual settings in which male same-sex behaviors occur, and where HIV transmission and acquisition risks are centered. MSM includes both gay and non-gay identified men, bisexual men, and MSM who identify themselves as heterosexuals. It also includes men engaging in "situational" sex between men, such as can occur in prisons, schools, militaries or other environments; and it includes male sex workers who may be of any orientation but are often at very high risk for HIV. MSM may include some biologically male transgender persons, though some do not identify as male. And MSM includes a wide array of traditional and local terms worldwide–with enormous cultural diversity in Asia, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere. We use the term MSM here at its most inclusive.
This study analyzed data from a large prospective epidemiologic cohort study among men who have sex with men (MSM), the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study, to assess syndemic relationships among Black MSM in the cohort (N = 301). We hypothesized that multiple interconnections among psychosocial health conditions would be found among these men, defining syndemic conditions. Constituents of syndemic conditions measured included reported depression symptoms, sexual compulsiveness, substance use, intimate partner violence (IPV), and stress. We found significant evidence of syndemics among these Black men: depression symptoms were independently associated with sexual compulsiveness (odds ratios [OR]: 1.88, 95% CI = 1.1, 3.3) and stress (OR: 2.67, 95% CI = 1.5, 4.7); sexual compulsiveness was independently associated with stress (OR: 2.04, 95% CI = 1.2, 3.5); substance misuse was independently associated with IPV (OR: 2.57, 95% CI = 1.4, 4.8); stress independently was associated with depression symptoms (OR: 2.67, 95% CI = 1.5, 4.7), sexual compulsiveness (OR: 2.04, 95% CI = 1.2, 3.5) and IPV (OR: 2.84, 95% CI = 1.6, 4.9). Moreover, men who reported higher numbers of syndemic constituents (three or more conditions) reportedly engaged in more unprotected anal intercourse compared to men who had two or fewer health conditions (OR: 3.46, 95% CI = 1.4–8.3). Findings support the concept of syndemics in Black MSM and suggest that syndemic theory may help explain complexities that sustain HIV-related sexual transmission behaviors in this group.
HIV; Syndemics; Black men; Sexual risk; Epidemiology
We investigated the impact of recruitment bias within the venue-based sampling (VBS) method, which is widely used to estimate disease prevalence and risk factors among groups, such as men who have sex with men (MSM), that congregate at social venues.
In a 2008 VBS study of 479 MSM in New York City, we calculated venue-specific approach rates (MSM approached/MSM counted) and response rates (MSM interviewed/MSM approached), and then compared crude estimates of HIV risk factors and seroprevalence with estimates weighted to address the lower selection probabilities of MSM who attend social venues infrequently or were recruited at high-volume venues.
Our approach rates were lowest at dance clubs, gay pride events, and public sex strolls, where venue volumes were highest; response rates ranged from 39% at gay pride events to 95% at community-based organizations. Sixty-seven percent of respondents attended MSM-oriented social venues at least weekly, and 21% attended such events once a month or less often in the past year. In estimates adjusted for these variations, the prevalence of several past-year risk factors (e.g., unprotected anal intercourse with casual/exchange partners, ≥5 total partners, group sex encounters, at least weekly binge drinking, and hard-drug use) was significantly lower compared with crude estimates. Adjusted HIV prevalence was lower than unadjusted prevalence (15% vs. 18%), but not significantly.
Not adjusting VBS data for recruitment biases could overestimate HIV risk and prevalence when the selection probability is greater for higher-risk MSM. While further examination of recruitment-adjustment methods for VBS data is needed, presentation of both unadjusted and adjusted estimates is currently indicated.
A growing body of literature suggests that intimate partner violence (IPV) occurs within same-sex relationships and that members of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community face a number of unique challenges in accessing IPV-related services. This paper examines the use of an online survey, marketed through a popular social networking site, to collect data on the experience and perpetration of IPV among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States.
Internet-using MSM were recruited through selective placement of banner advertisements on MySpace.com. Participants were eligible for the baseline survey if they were males ≥ 18 years of age, and reported at least one male sex partner in the last 12 months. In total 16,597 men responded to the ad, of which 11,681 were eligible for the study, and 5,602 completed the questionnaire; 543 men completed the follow-up survey, which included questions on the experience and perpetration of IPV. The final analysis sample was 402.
The prevalence of violence among the sample was relatively high: 11.8% of men reported physical violence from a current male partner, and about 4% reported experiencing coerced sex. Reporting of perpetration of violence against a partner was generally lower, with approximately 7% reporting perpetrating physical violence and less than 1% reporting perpetration of sexual violence.
The results presented here find lower levels of experiencing both physical and sexual IPV than have been shown in previous studies, yet show relatively high levels of reporting of perpetration of IPV. Collecting IPV data through surveys administered through social networking sites is feasible and provides a new opportunity to reach currently overlooked populations in IPV research.
Research examining the sexual behaviors and experiences of behaviorally bisexual men is limited. Most studies focus primarily on highlighting sexual risk behaviors among groups of “men who have sex with men (MSM)” or “gay and bisexual men,” which may not be appropriate in terms of behaviorally bisexual men’s sexual repertoires with both men and women. This study aimed to assess a broad range of sexual behaviors and associated experiences among bisexual men living in the midwestern United States. An interviewer-administered questionnaire containing items from the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior assessed lifetime and recent (i.e., past six months and last event) sexual behaviors and experiences with both male and female partners among a diverse sample of 75 behaviorally bisexual men. Responses were quantified and analyzed using descriptive and multivariate statistics. A wide range of sexual behaviors with partners of both genders was found. Vaginal intercourse and oral sex with both men and women were the most commonly reported behaviors. Subjective reports of pleasure, arousal, and sexual function during sexual activity were similar with both male and female partners. Many participants reported using condoms during insertive sexual behaviors with male and female partners, but less during oral sex. Unprotected receptive anal sex was less commonly reported. Overall, participants reported a variety of sexual behaviors and experiences; however, unlike other populations, they shared these with partners of both genders. Results have implications for interventions targeting the sexual behaviors and associated issues among behaviorally bisexual men.
Bisexual; Sexual Behavior; Sexual Experience; Men Who Have Sex with Both Men and Women (MSMW)
We tested a theory of syndemic production among men who have sex with men (MSM) using data from a large cohort study.
Participants were 1551 men from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study enrolled at 4 study sites: Baltimore, Maryland–Washington, DC; Chicago, Illinois; Los Angeles, California; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Participants who attended semiannual visits from April 1, 2008, to March 31, 2009, completed an additional survey that captured data about events throughout their life course thought to be related to syndemic production.
Using multivariate analysis, we found that the majority of life-course predictor variables (e.g., victimization, internalized homophobia) were significantly associated with both the syndemic condition and the component psychosocial health outcomes (depressive symptoms, stress, stimulant use, sexual compulsivity, intimate partner violence). A nested negative binomial analysis showed that the overall life course significantly explained variability in the syndemic outcomes (χ2 = 247.94; P < .001; df = 22).
We identified life-course events and conditions related to syndemic production that may help to inform innovative interventions that will effectively disentangle interconnecting health problems and promote health among MSM.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) have higher smoking rates than the general population in the United States, but less is known about smoking among MSM in developing countries. Thus, we examined the prevalence and correlates of smoking among MSM in China.
We conducted a cross-sectional study of 404 MSM in Shanghai, China (half of whom were male sex workers), recruited through respondent-driven sampling. Assessments included sociodemographics; tobacco, alcohol, and drug use; the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D); the Social Provisions Scale (SPS); and the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Identity Scale (LGBIS).
Smoking prevalence was 65.9% in this sample. Recent smoking (i.e., in the past 3 months) was significantly associated with lower education, greater alcohol use, and higher LGBIS scores, after controlling for important sociodemographics. Among smokers, smoking ≥10 cigarettes per day (CPD), in comparison with <10 CPD, was related to older age and lower LGBIS scores and marginally related to heavy alcohol use. Although bivariate analyses indicated a relationship of CES-D and SPS scores to recent smoking, these factors did not contribute to the regression models.
Smoking rates among MSM in China are higher than MSM in the United States and men in China. Less comfort with one’s sexual orientation was related to smoking, particularly light smoking. Heavier alcohol consumption, lower education, and older age were also associated with smoking. Future research should confirm these findings and examine mediators and moderators of these relationships in order to inform cessation interventions and tobacco control policy.
Increasingly, studies show that characteristics of the urban environment influence a wide variety of health behaviors and disease outcomes, yet few studies have focused on the sexual risk behaviors of men who have sex with men (MSM). This focus is important as many gay men reside in or move to urban areas, and sexual risk behaviors and associated outcomes have increased among some urban MSM in recent years. As interventions aimed at changing individual-level risk behaviors have shown mainly short-term effects, consideration of broader environmental influences is needed. Previous efforts to assess the influence of environmental characteristics on sexual behaviors and related health outcomes among the general population have generally applied three theories as explanatory models: physical disorder, social disorganization and social norms theories. In these models, the intervening mechanisms specified to link environmental characteristics to individual-level outcomes include stress, collective efficacy, and social influence processes, respectively. Whether these models can be empirically supported in generating inferences about the sexual behavior of urban MSM is underdeveloped. Conceptualizing sexual risk among MSM to include social and physical environmental characteristics provides a basis for generating novel and holistic disease prevention and health promotion interventions.
HIV; MSM; Sexual risk behavior; Urban environment
The purpose of this study was to compare the social network characteristics of men who have sex with men (MSM) to non-MSM (NMSM) in a sample of predominately African American drug users. Specifically, we were interested in examining the differences in structure of the networks and drug and sexual risk partners within the network.
Data came from 481 male participants who reported having >=1 sex partner in the past 90 days. MSM was defined as having sex with a male. Data on social network composition were collected using a Social Network Inventory.
Of 481 men, 7% (n=32) were categorized as MSM. Nearly two-thirds of MSM did not identify as gay. MSM were more likely to be HIV positive as compared to men who did not have sex with men. Social networks of MSM were younger and a greater proportion were HIV positive. After adjusting for HIV status, networks of MSM were less dense, indicating fewer connections among network members. Among injection drug using men in the sample, MSM reported a greater number of needle sharing networks than NMSM.
These findings underscore the importance of including social network factors in investigations of HIV risk among MSM. Further studies should focus on dynamics within a network and how they may operate to affect behavior and health.
MSM; social networks; HIV
HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender (TG) persons is high and increasing in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand.
To describe demographic, socioeconomic, sexual behavior and interest in future HIV prevention trials among gay and bisexual MSM and TG presenting for HIV testing (VCT) and pre-screening for the iPrEx pre-exposure chemoprophylaxis trail.
In 2008–09, MSM/TG participants attending VCT were interviewed and tested for HIV and STI. Univariate and multivariate regression analyses were done to assess associations with HIV infection.
A total of 551 MSM clients (56.1% gay, 25.4% TG, and 18.5% bisexual (BS)) were enrolled. The mean age was 23.9 years. HIV prevalence among MSM overall was 12.9% (71/551); 16.5% among gay men, 9.3% among TG, and 6.9% among BS. Consistent use of condom was low, 33.3% in insertive anal sex and 31.9% in receptive anal sex. Interest in participation was high, 86.3% for PrEP, 69.7% for HIV vaccine trials, but 29.9% for circumcision. HIV was independently associated with being gay identified, aOR 2.8, p = 0.037 and with being aged 25–29, aOR 2.7, p = 0.027. Among repeat testers, HIV incidence was 8.2/100 PY, 95% CI, 3.7/100PY to 18.3/100PY.
HIV risks and rates varied by self-reported sexual orientation and gender identity. HIV was associated with sexual practices, age, and being gay-identified. These are populations are in need of novel prevention strategies and willing to participate in prevention research.
The MSM (Men who have sex with men) population suffers from very high rates of concurrent psychosocial problems. Together, these problems comprise a syndemic that increases the risk of HIV infection for this community. The precise mechanisms through which this syndemic can raise the likelihood of HIV infection warrant further exploration.
A total of 522 MSM were enrolled via a multiframe sampling approach and were asked to report psychosocial problems, risky sexual behaviors and HIV test results. A count of psychosocial health problems was calculated to test the additive relationship of these factors on HIV risk. Adjusting analysis and restriction analysis were used to determine a proposed intermediate pathway. Psychosocial health problems are highly concurrent and intercorrelated among urban MSM. Greater numbers of health problems are significantly and positively associated with HIV infection, which is mediated, at least partially, by risky sexual behaviors.
MSM experience concurrent psychosocial health problems that correlate with HIV infection in this community. We recommend the development of coping strategies for this population to deal with these psychosocial problems, both in prevention research and health policy.
Two decades of HIV prevention efforts with men who have sex with men (MSM) have not eliminated the risk of new HIV infections in this vulnerable population. Indeed, current incidence rates in African American MSM are similar to those usually only seen in developing countries. A review of the existing literature suggests that the prevention research agenda for Black MSM could benefit from reframing conceptualization of risk as a function of individual properties to a broad consideration of social and interpersonal determinants. Studies that investigate dyadic and social-level influences on African American MSM’s relationships are needed. This includes research explicating the diversity existing within the categorizations of Black MSM with respect to perceived identity (gay, bisexual, “men on the down low,” “homo thugz”), constructions of masculinity, sexual scripts, sources of social support, and perceived norms and expectations. Recommendations are proposed for a research agenda focusing on linkages between interpersonal and social-structural determinants of HIV risk.
down low; MSM; African American; Black; homo thugz; HIV prevention; social determinants; inequality; mental health
Research on gay and other men who have sex with men's (G/MSM) preferences for sexual healthcare services focuses largely on HIV testing and to some extent on sexually transmitted infections (STI). This research illustrates the frequency and location of where G/MSM interface with the healthcare system, but it does not speak to why men seek care in those locations. As HIV and STI prevention strategies evolve, evidence about G/MSM's motivations and decision-making can inform future plans to optimize models of HIV/STI prevention and primary care.
We conducted a phenomenological study of gay men's sexual health seeking experiences, which included 32 in-depth interviews with gay and bisexual men. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and entered into Atlas.ti. We conducted a Framework Analysis.
We identified a continuum of sexual healthcare seeking practices and their associated drivers. Men differed in their preferences for separating sexual healthcare from other forms of healthcare (“fragmentation”) versus combining all care into one location (“consolidation”). Fragmentation drivers included: fear of being monitored by insurance companies, a desire to seek non-judgmental providers with expertise in sexual health, a desire for rapid HIV testing, perceiving sexual health services as more convenient than primary care services, and a lack of healthcare coverage. Consolidation drivers included: a comfortable and trusting relationship with a provider, a desire for one provider to oversee overall health and those with access to public or private health insurance.
Men in this study were likely to separate sexual healthcare from primary care. Based on this finding, we recommend placing new combination HIV/STI prevention interventions within sexual health clinics. Furthermore, given the evolution of the financing and delivery of healthcare services and in HIV prevention, policymakers and clinicians should consider including more primary care services within sexual healthcare settings.
Dramatic increases in HIV-incidence rates have been documented for Black men who have sex with men (MSM). Moreover, MSM has become a more visible HIV-transmission route in the Black community, in part due to public interest in the “down low” (i.e., “straight” men who also have sex with men). Interviews were conducted with 21 Black MSM in central Brooklyn, New York City, in efforts to understand the diversity of MSM experience in a low income, high HIV-prevalence community. Two thirds of the men identified as either heterosexual (43%) or bisexual (24%) and 15 (71%) MSM reported recent sex with women. Conformity to masculine social role expectations made it difficult to identify sex partners in the community; therefore, men relied on private sex clubs and the Internet. The findings suggest that stigma surrounding both HIV and homosexuality may effectively insure that nonheterosexual preferences and practices remain hidden in the Black community. A focus on sexual orientation and bisexuality has obscured the issue of race in the HIV/AIDS epidemic among Black MSM. In the long term, public health promotion and HIV prevention will require greater tolerance and acceptance of sexual diversity in the Black community.
Black MSM; Drug use; HIV; Sexual risk
Many men who have sex with men (MSM) have sexual encounters in public places, and some data suggest that this behavior is more common among Latino than non-Hispanic white MSM in the U.S. In a sample of 482 Latino MSM born in Brazil, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, and living in the New York City metropolitan area, we examined how demographic and psychosocial characteristics are related to having sex in public venues. Logistic regression was performed with the dichotomous outcome of sex in a public place in the previous six months. Demographic variables included education, HIV-positive serostatus, unknown HIV serostatus, and having immigrated to the U.S. within the previous five years; psychosocial variables included self-efficacy for safer sex, depression, and gay community involvement. Results indicated that those individuals with unknown serostatus were more likely than those with HIV-negative serostatus to have had sex in a public setting, as were men with lower self-efficacy for safer sex. These findings suggest that the partner pool in public sex venues may pose substantial risk, and therefore they underscore the importance of low risk sexual practices and condom use in such settings. Contrary to expectations, higher education was related to sex in public settings, but neither depression nor recent immigration was. Greater involvement in the gay community was also associated with having sex in public places, which may reflect the larger social function served by gay venues such as bathhouses and bars.
MSM; Latino; public sex; HIV
South Florida is home to a highly transient population of approximately 145,000 men who have sex with men (MSM) and annually hosts over 1.8 million gay and bisexual visitors. To develop more effective interventions for HIV/sexually transmitted infections (STI) prevention in this setting, we conducted a cross-sectional study of recreational drug use and risky sexual behaviors among MSM. A standardized, selfadministered questionnaire, reviewed and approved by a university Institutional Review Board, was offered to men 18 years of age and older who reported ever having sex with a man. Men were approached on weekends in five diverse locations in Miami-Dade County and five in Broward County in winter 2004. An honorarium of $10 was offered to those who completed and returned a questionnaire. Of 407 participants, 115 men (28%) lived in Miami-Dade, 147 (36%) lived in Broward, 46 (11%) lived in another county in south Florida, and 99 (24%) lived elsewhere. Overall, 32% reported using one or more “club drugs” in the past year. Club drug use was highly associated with unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) (P<.001). MSM residing outside of south Florida were more likely than local residents to report using cocaine and ketamine and engaging in unprotected receptive anal intercourse (URAI) in the past month (P=.03). Tourists may be even more likely than residents to engage in risky sexual behaviors and use certain recreational drugs. Interventions must be developed, implemented, and evaluated that take into account the unique characteristics of international resort areas.
HIV prevalence; International travel; Men who have sex with men; Recreational drug use; Sexual behavior; Substance abuse
Research over the past ten years has suggested that methamphetamine use has become a significant problem and is associated with risky sexual behaviors among gay and bisexual men. In order to better understand initiation into methamphetamine use among gay and bisexual men, qualitative analyses were performed on a sample of young gay and bisexual men (ages 18-29) in New York City. Participants were recruited as part of a larger study which used time-space sampling to enroll club-going young adults who indicated recent club-drug (ecstasy, ketamine, GHB, methamphetamine, cocaine, and/or LSD) use. The data for this paper are derived from the qualitative interviews of 54 gay and bisexual male methamphetamine users. At initiation (1) Methamphetamine was used in a social, non-sexual setting for a majority of the participants; (2) participants expressed limited knowledge of methamphetamine; and (3) many participants used cocaine as a basis for comparison when describing various effects of the drug. The understanding that at initiation methamphetamine was not solely used as a sexual enhancement for members of this community may enable health workers to more accurately target potential users when putting forth intervention efforts. Future research should aim to gain a better understanding into the role that methamphetamine plays in non-sexual contexts, particularly among gay and bisexual men who may not be part of the club “scene.” The relationship between attitudes towards methamphetamine and other drugs, particularly cocaine, among gay and bisexual men should be explored.
Methamphetamine; Crystal meth; Initiation; Gay
Men who have sex with men (MSM) account for the greatest burden of the HIV epidemic in Peru. Given that MSM are frequent users of the Internet, understanding the risk behaviors and the reasons for not getting tested among MSM who surf the Internet may improve the tailoring of future online behavioral interventions.
From October 2007 to April 2008, we conducted an online survey among users of seven Peruvian gay websites.
We received 1,481 surveys, 1,301 of which were included in the analysis. The median age of the participants was 22.5 years (range 12 – 71), 67% were homosexual, and the remainder was bisexual. Of survey respondents, 49.4% had never been tested for HIV and only 11.3% were contacted in-person during the last year by peer health educators from the Peruvian Ministry of Health and NGOs. Additionally, 50.8% had unprotected anal or vaginal sex at last intercourse, and a significant percentage reported a condom broken (22.1%), slipped (16.4%) or sexual intercourse initiated without wearing a condom (39.1%). The most common reasons for not getting tested for HIV among high-risk MSM were “I fear the consequences of a positive test result” (n = 55, 34.4%), and “I don't know where I can get tested” (n = 50, 31.3%).
A small percentage of Peruvian MSM who answered our online survey, were reached by traditional peer-based education programs. Given that among high-risk MSM, fear of a positive test result and lack of awareness of places where to get tested are the most important reasons for not taking an HIV test, Internet interventions aimed at motivating HIV testing should work to reduce fear of testing and increase awareness of places that offer free HIV testing services to MSM.
Young gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) experience sexual health disparities due to a lack of support in settings that traditionally promote positive youth development. The Internet may help to fill this void, but little is known about how it is used for sexual health purposes among young MSM. This mixed-methods study reports quantitative results of a large survey of 18–24 year old MSM in an HIV testing clinic (N = 329) as well as qualitative results from interviews. Level of Internet use was high in this sample and the majority of participants reported using the Internet to find HIV/AIDS information. Black and Latino youth used the Internet less frequently than White youth, and after controlling for age, education, and frequency of Internet use, Black youth were 70% less likely to use the Internet to find HIV/AIDS information. Qualitative analyses identified themes related to the role of the Internet in finding sexual health information, sexual minority identity development, and sexual risk taking behaviors. Participants reported that the Internet filled an important and unmet need for sexual health education. It allowed for connections to the gay community and support during the coming out process, but also exposure to homophobic messages. There was no evidence of increased risk behaviors with partners met online, but at the same time the potential for the use of the Internet to facilitate safer sex communication was largely untapped. Our findings generally present an optimistic picture about the role of the Internet in the development of sexual health among young MSM.
Internet; HIV prevention; online; gay; bisexual; MSM
Gay and bisexual men continue to suffer the highest burden of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. Since the beginning of the epidemic, substance abuse has been shown to be one of the strongest predictors of sexual risk behaviors and seroconversion among this population. Recent research has focused on additional aspects of health risk disparities among gay and bisexual men, including depression and other mental health problems, childhood sexual abuse, and adult victimization, suggesting that these men are impacted by a syndemic of health risks. The involvement of gay and bisexual men with the criminal justice system is largely absent from the literature. This article describes the nature, extent and predictors of the arrest histories of a sample of gay and bisexual substance users at very high risk for HIV infection and/or transmission. These histories are surprisingly extensive, and are strongly associated with poverty, severe mental distress, substance abuse and dependence, and victimization. The involvement of gay and bisexual men in the criminal justice system deserves a stronger research focus because of the unique challenges facing such men and also because arrests are yet another marker for a host of health risks among them.
arrest history; gay men; HIV/AIDS; MSM; syndemic theory