CAHSS Faculty Articles


Social Context, Sexual Strategies, and Risks for HIV Transmission among Men who have Sex with Men: The South Beach Health Survey


Department of Justice and Human Services

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Sexuality and Culture





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In a population-based sample of 193 men who had sex with men in South Beach, Miami-Dade County, Florida, two indicators of social context—choice of sexual relationships and perceived HIV-infection status—were used to analyze residents who engaged in certain sexual practices with their partners. The vast majority (88.6%) of respondents reported engagement in anal sex during the previous 12 months; 20.2% reported unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) with ejaculation with any partner and 12.4% reported UAI with ejaculation with one or more casual partners. Findings supported the hypothesis that primary partner relationships and perceived HIV status are important variables for understanding engagement in UAI with ejaculation. Men who engaged in such behaviors with casual partners were more likely to have negative attitudes towards condoms, report difficulty communicating desires for safer sex, disagree with the belief that AIDS is fatal, and be intoxicated during anal intercourse. Men who reported engaging in anal intercourse, but who never shared unprotected ejaculations, were most likely to be unknowingly infected with HIV, suggesting that many men may become infected while following what they believe to be “safer sex practices.” In designing effective interventions, public health authorities need to take into account socially embedded risk-negotiating practices.

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