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Gay men’s sexual identities and personal networks

Gay men’s sexual identities and personal networks

Sexually adventurous gay men are more likely to engage in sexual risk behavior. Is this an individual characteristic or does it reflect participation in sexually adventurous networks?

Methods: CONNECT was an online survey of gay men recruited during 2010-2012 in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. 937 men were asked questions about their own sexual identity and that of men in their personal networks. 912 men responded to these questions, including 452 who were referred into the study by another participant. L Factor analysis and logistic regression was used to calculate statistical associations.

Results: Most men were gay (78.1%) or homosexual (16.1%). Mean age was 35.6 years. 89.6% had been tested for HIV and 12.1% were HIV-positive. Most men identified at least somewhat with several sexual identities, such as: Bear/cub (25.2%); Sexpig (20.4%); Partyboy (21.7%); Leatherman (18.1%); Twink (12.3%); Alternative (25.4%). Most men also indicated that men in their personal networks identified at least partially with several of these same identities, such as: Bear/cub (28.7%); Sexpig (23.1%); Partyboy (33.9%); Leatherman (21.3%); Twink (20.5%); Alternative (26.2%).
Usually, but not always, men’s personal identities closely corresponded to those of their networks. Factor analysis identified six types of personal network: Sexually adventurous (accounting for 64.2% of men); Bears, cubs and chubbies (40.6%); Alternative / queer (47.4%); Gay scene (43.7%); Conservative (57.7%); and Asexual (9.2%). In multivariate analysis, after controlling for age and HIV status, only being engaged in sexually adventurous networks was associated with unprotected anal intercourse with casual partners (aOR=1.17; CI 1.10-1.24; p<0.001).

Conclusion: Men’s various sexual identities tend to also be reflected in the kinds of men with whom they engage. sexual risk behavior is more likely to occur within sexually adventurous networks, and to reflect their normative values. Targeted harm reduction programs need to address men through such networks, not just as individuals.


Conference: ASHM 2013
Areas of Interest / Categories: Australian Society for HIV 2013

Australian Society for HIV 2013

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Behavioural trends among Australian gay men pose increasing challenges for HIV prevention: findings from the Gay Community Periodic Surveys, 2003-1

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