226824 Attraction, Dating and Sex: Implications for the Sexual Health of Gay/Bisexual Male Youth

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 1:30 PM - 1:45 PM

Gary W. Harper, PhD, MPH , Master of Public Health Program, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Douglas Bruce, PhD, MSW , Adolescent Community Health Research Group, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Steven Rogers, BA , Department of Psychology, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Background: As rates of HIV infection and other STIs continue to rise among gay/bisexual male youth, it is critical to develop sexual health promotion programs that address the realities of the sexual lives of these youth. There is a dearth of literature on attraction, dating, and romantic relationships among gay/bisexual male youth and how they may influence HIV/STI transmission.

Methods: Qualitative interviews were conducted with 63 HIV- gay/bisexual youth (ages 15-23) recruited from community venues in two urban centers, and 56 HIV+ youth (ages 16-24), recruited from four geographically/demographically diverse HIV clinics. Questions explored romantic/non-romantic relationships and sexual encounters with other males.

Results: Qualitative data were analyzed using a phenomenological framework, combining data from both HIV- and HIV+ youth. Youth reported confusion regarding initial same-gender attraction and the status (romantic vs. non-romantic) of male-male relationship. They discussed challenges in initiating/maintaining non-sexual relationships with other gay/bisexual males. Although several youth reported desires for long-term romantic relationships, they reported challenges in finding dating partners and doubts about ever finding a long-term partner. Participants discussed the complex interplay of sex and romantic relationships, and detailed various roles sex can play in modulating their psychosocial status. A general lack of resources for gay/bisexual youth regarding dating/romantic relationships was noted.

Conclusions: These data demonstrate the significant role that dating/romantic relationships play in the sexual lives of gay/bisexual male youth. Future interventions should assist gay/bisexual male youth with navigating the complex interplay of attraction, dating and sexual activity in order to promote their sexual health.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
•To identify the roles that dating, romantic relationships and sexual activity play in the lives of gay/bisexual male youth. •To describe the challenges faced by gay/bisexual youth with regard to same-gender sexual attraction, finding dating/romantic relationship partners, and negotiating sex within the context of romantic relationships. •To discuss ways in which future interventions for gay/bisexual male youth can incorporate the role of dating and romantic relationships in the promotion of their sexual health.

Keywords: Gay, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I conduct behavioral research with gay and bisexual male adolescents and emerging adults.
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.

Back to: 5169.0: LGBT Youth Research