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AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2010 Oct;24(10):659-74. doi: 10.1089/apc.2010.0071.

“It's a quick way to get what you want”: a formative exploration of HIV risk among urban Massachusetts men who have sex with men who attend sex parties.

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  • 1The Fenway Institute, Fenway Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA. mmimiaga@partners.org

Abstract

Community-based studies with men who have sex with men (MSM) suggest that between 8% and 25% of MSM have met recent male sexual partners at private sex parties. Little is known about HIV sexual risk behaviors of MSM who attend sex parties and whether risk reduction interventions can be delivered in this setting. In 2008, 40 MSM who reported attending and/or hosting sex parties in Massachusetts in the past 12 months completed a qualitative interview and quantitative assessment. Participants reported attending a mean number of 10 sex parties in Massachusetts in the past 12 months. A significant percentage (43%) reported also hosting sex parties. Participants had made sexual partner connections across multiple venues, including public cruising areas, bars/clubs, and the Internet. At the most recent sex party attended, the majority had used alcohol (58%) and/or drugs (50%), and one quarter (25%) put themselves at risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) by having unprotected anal sex with a mean number of three serodiscordant male sex partners. Although many participants perceived that communicating about sexual health in the sex party context would “ruin the mood,” the majority (80%) considered some form of HIV prevention at sex parties to be appropriate and necessary, as well as acceptable. Nonintrusive prevention and education activities were especially endorsed (i.e., condoms, lubricants, and coupons for free HIV/STI testing). The majority of participants (75%) expressed some interest in “safer sex” parties. MSM attending sex parties appear to be a subpopulation at high risk for HIV and STI acquisition and transmission. Risk reduction interventions responsive to the needs of MSM who attend sex parties are warranted.

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