Study highlights uses of condoms among gay men in real world contexts
A new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine has interesting findings concerning condom use in real world contexts among men who have sex with men (85% gay-identified). The large online study (final sample of 14,750 men; average age of 38.5 years) specifically focuses on two key aspects of recent penile-anal intercourse (PAI): relationship characteristics and ejaculation behaviors of the two partners (i.e., where each partner ejaculates). Further, it explores the location in which men use condoms, such as a private home or hotel versus a more public location such as a vehicle, park, or sex club.
Study findings include:
- Only 2.5% of the entire sample reported that ejaculation occurred in either their own or their sexual partner’s anus without a condom during most recent PAI. While MSM have been traditionally categorized as “high risk,” these data suggest that the current framing of risk based solely on gendered sexual behavior may be shortsighted.
- Over 45% of the participants reported using a condom for their last anal intercourse.
- Men were significantly more likely to have used a condom when PAI occurred in their sexual partner’s home or a hotel/motel room, compared with more public locations such as a car.
- Condom use was consistently highest among young men (18-24 years old), particularly young men of color, regardless of sexual position. This is good news that young men are taking added and necessary precautions.
This study also highlighted that men in sexually monogomous relationships tend to have unprotected sex, and if both partners are HIV and STI negative, that may be appropriate. However, extra-relational sexual contacts can introduce HIV/STI infection in these exclusive sexual relationships. This emphasizes the necessity of condom promotion programs that encourage open dialog and communication between sexual partners, including couples, so that individuals may accurately assess sexual risk.
The study urges policymakers and public health professionals to consider the contextual components of condom use, specifically, partner types, location of the sexual event, and semen exposure. Additionally, policies and programs are needed that promote condom use and possession as routine and at the same time, decrease cultural biases that suggest the presence of condoms are a sign of negative sexual behaviors.
Source: Rosenberger, J. G., Reece, M., Schick, V., Herbenick, D., Novak, D. S., Van Der Pol, B., Fortenberry, J. D. (2012). Condom Use During Most Recent Anal Intercourse Event Among a U.S. Sample of Men Who Have Sex With Men. Journal of Sexual Medicine, (early view online), **;**:**–**. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02650.x