208486 Working with reality instead of stereotypes: Young men's socio-sexual identities

Monday, November 9, 2009: 4:50 PM

Heather Batson , Research and Evaluation, Public Health Management Corporation, Philadelphia, PA
Jennifer L. Lauby, PhD , Research & Evaluation, Public Health Management Corporation, Philadelphia, PA
Mary Milnamow, BA , Research and Evaluation, Public Health Management Corporation, Philadelphia, PA
Background: Sexual identity is fluid, both for individuals and in societies. What sexual identities do young MSM have today, and what do they mean?

Methods: As part of the evaluation of a community-level HIV-prevention intervention for young Black and White gay, bisexual, and other MSM in Philadelphia, we recruited 282 participants ages 15 to 29 at venues and through chain referrals. Interviewers administered part of the survey, while participants utilized ACASI to complete more sensitive sections. A standard sexual orientation item was asked, but opportunities to select more complex socio-sexual identities, such as “queer,” “down low”, and “same-gender loving” and self-definition were also available; ties to LGBT communities, gender or and sexual behaviors with recent partners were also assessed.

Results: More so than for sexual orientation, socio-sexual identities were associated with different patterns of partnership, LGBT community involvement, and unprotected sex. For example among men who had receptive anal sex, “queer” identified men were far more likely have UAI than other men (79% vs 60%, p<.03). In contrast, among men who had insertive anal sex, those who identified as “in the life” were far less likely to have UAI compared to other men (38% vs 64%, p<.001).

Conclusions: Although complex and slippery, socio-sexual identities may be a useful way to understand young men's sexual identity in context. HIV-related messages for gay, bisexual, and other MSM populations must be carefully targeted so that the men at-risk notice these messages; an understanding of more complex, current socio-sexual identities is necessary.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe how socio-sexual identities differ from sexual orientation. 2. Discuss differences in engagement with LGBT communities and sexual behavior between men with different socio-sexual identities. 3. Explain how stereotypes about socio-sexual identities jeopardize efforts to reach out to targeted groups.

Keywords: Sexuality, HIV/AIDS

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract Author on the content I am responsible for because: I have been involved in the creation of the instruemtns used, the data collection, and data analysis this paper describes.
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.