184526 Decision-making about condom use and nonuse among gay men in Mexico: Meanings, signs and the performance of identity

Monday, October 27, 2008: 1:10 PM

F. Javier Arellano-Ayala , School of Public Health. Reproductive Health Program, National Institute of Public Health (Mexico), Cuernavaca, Mexico
Betania Allen-Leigh, PhD , Reproductive Health Division, Center for Population Health Research, National Institute of Public Health, Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
Although in Mexico condom use is the central HIV/STI prevention strategy promoted among men who have sex with men (MSM) includes gay men, a recent on-line survey among MSM in Mexico found that 50% knew someone who practiced barebacking and 14% reported having practiced it themselves, while surveys indicate that 50-80% of Mexican MSM report “always” using condoms in last sexual intercourse. Therefore, this study's objective was to explore the meanings and representations involved in decision-making by young MSM about condom use during anal penetration. Free-lists, pile-sorts, face-to-face focus groups and on-line individual interviews were carried out with a convenience sample of young gay men. Free-lists and pile-sorts were registered in writing, focus groups were taped and transcribed and on-line interviews were saved as text. Qualitative analyses using cultural consensus theory and the constant comparative method were carried out with Anthropac and NVIVO software. The elements of decision-making about condom use constitute signs used to convey meaning to self and others. Use and nonuse of condoms are involved in the performative construction of identities. Therefore, the decision to use or not to use condoms during anal sex is rarely if ever simply a means to an end (protection or physical pleasure) but is also a vehicle of communication within the performance of gay identities. This research seeks to elucidate the meanings of these behaviors and thereby inform harm-reduction and protective strategies that are better adapted to Mexican gay men's realities and more apt to meet their sexual health needs.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify socio-cultural elements of decision-making about condom use by gay men in Mexico. 2. Recognize the ways in which condom use and nonuse are employed as signs that communicate and construct sexual identity among gay men in Mexico. 3. Apply theories of socio-cultural construction of sexuality and performative identity to condom use and nonuse, and HIV prevention and risk behavior in general among gay men in Mexico.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Sexual Risk Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a PhD in anthropology who works in public health research at the National Institute of Public Health and I participated in the analysis and writing up of this research project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.