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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
3337.0: Monday, December 12, 2005 - Board 8

Abstract #110374

Exploring the health risk disparities of gay men: What can we learn by comparing gay, male university students to their heterosexual peers?

Scott D. Rhodes, PhD, MPH, CHES, Department of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Section on Social Sciences and Health Policy, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1063, 336/713.5080, srhodes@wfubmc.edu, Thomas McCoy, MS, Biostatistics, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Blvd, MRI, 3rd Floor, Room 318, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, Kenneth C. Hergenrather, PhD, MSEd, MRC, CRC, Department of Counseling/Human and Organizational Studies, The George Washington University, 2134 G Street, NW, #318, Washington, DC 20052, Morrow Reeves Omli, MAEd, CSAC, Public Health Sciences/Social Sciences and Health Policy, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, 2000 West First Street, Piedmont Plaza II, 2nd Floor, Winston-Salem, NC 27104, and Robert DuRant, PhD, Department of Pediatrics, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Blvd., Winston-Salem, NC 27157.

Background: While much public health dialogue currently is occurring on the health disparities that exist by race and ethnicity, less discussion has focused on sexual orientation. In this study, we sought to compare the health risk behaviors of gay male university students to their heterosexual peers.

Methods: A cross-sectional web-based assessment of 2645 college students randomly recruited from ten college campuses in North Carolina was used. Data were analyzed using univariate and bivariate analyses (Chi-square, Kruskal-Wallis).

Results: Of 2645 responses, 1014 male students completed the assessment. Of these, 43 (4.2%) identified as gay or bisexual, and 971 (95.8%) identified as heterosexual; 83% identified as white; 6% as African American/black; 5% as Asian/Pacific Islander; 2% as multiracial; and 1% as Native American. Mean age was 20 years (2.5; range 17-30).

Gay students were less likely to use a condom consistently (P<.03); and more likely to report multiple sexual partners (P<.02) and illegal drug use (P<.02). No differences were found between the groups for other health-compromising behaviors including current and past alcohol use and cigarette smoking.

Conclusions: Despite limitations, our findings underscore the importance of (a) further research to understand sexual orientation in terms of identify, desire, and behavior throughout the life course; (b) more comprehensive surveillance and data collection to identify and understand disproportionate rates of disease burden borne by gay and bisexual men; and (c) the development, implementation, and evaluation of creative yet scientifically-sound interventions to reach a variety of gay and bisexual men for a variety of health issues.

Learning Objectives:

  • By the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to

    Keywords: Gay Men, Risk Behavior

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:

    I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

    Special Topics: Poster Session

    The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA