Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome/human immunodeficiency virus risk behavior among gay men in small cities. Findings of a 16-city national sample.
BACKGROUND: Most research on acquired immunodeficiency syndrome has been conducted in several of the country's largest cities, and little is known about the current level of human immunodeficiency virus risk taking among gay men in other geographical areas. The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency of risk behavior practices among gay men in smaller communities. METHOD: A large sample of men who patronized gay bars in 16 small and moderate-size cities drawn from six states in four different regions of the country was surveyed to determine the frequency of high-risk behavior and factors influencing risk taking. Eighty-five percent of men in all cities' bars completed all survey measures. The community samples were 1991 men; mean age, 31.3 years; mean education, 10.6 years; 90% were white and 10% were of other ethnicities. All participants provided detailed information on their sexual behavior practices over the preceding 2 months and completed measures assessing their perceived peer norms concerning safer sex practices and risk avoidance, intentions to avoid risk, personal risk estimation, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome risk knowledge, perceived threat of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome/human immunodeficiency virus, and serostatus testing history. RESULTS: High-risk patterns were still common among gay men in these smaller cities; nearly one third of all men had engaged in unprotected anal intercourse an average of eight times in the past 2 months, usually outside monogamous relationships. High-risk behavior was most strongly associated with beliefs that safer sex practices would not be well accepted by peers, weak intentions to use condoms, underestimation of personal vulnerability to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, younger age, and higher levels of overall sexual activity. Nine percent of men tested said they were seropositive. CONCLUSIONS: Growing human immunodeficiency virus prevalence and continued high rates of risk behavior indicate that a new "front line" for human immunodeficiency virus prevention among homosexually active men has shifted to the country's smaller cities. Community prevention efforts in these areas are urgently needed to avert sharp increases in future human immunodeficiency virus infections in this population.
Kelly, JA; Murphy, DA; Roffman, RA; Solomon, LJ; Winett, RA; Stevenson, LY; Koob, JJ; Ayotte, DR; Flynn, BS; Desiderato, LL
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