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AIDS Educ Prev. 2009 Aug;21(4):340-55. doi: 10.1521/aeap.2009.21.4.340.

Environmental factors in relation to unprotected sexual behavior among gay, bisexual, and other MSM.

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Center for Health, Identity, Behavior, and Prevention Studies, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University, New York, NY, USA.


This descriptive article illustrates the casual sexual behaviors of a diverse sample (N = 311) of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) regularly attending gyms in New York City. Approximately 88% of the sample noted sex with a casual partner in the previous 6 months. Participants reported the frequency of unprotected sexual acts, the perceived HIV status of their partners, and the contexts where they met their casual sex partners. The study findings suggest that the context in which MSM choose to meet casual sex partners has an effect on both the number of casual sex partners they meet and the number of casual sex partners with whom they engage in unprotected receptive anal intercourse and unprotected insertive anal intercourse. We found that the highest risk sexual behaviors took place at bareback sex parties, which are often held at private venues. Men who meet their sexual partners at bareback sex parties are also likely to frequent bathhouses/sex clubs and nonbareback sex parties, suggesting a varied exploration of sexual contexts, partners, and behaviors. We attempt to enhance individual-level models of understanding sexual behavior and risk by proposing that the individual is influenced by the physical context where he makes his decisions.

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