270961 Belonging to the “Bear Community”: Implications for men's sexual health and behaviors

Monday, October 29, 2012

Phillip Schnarrs , Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Joshua G. Rosenberger, PhD, MPH , Department of Global and Community Health, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Vanessa Schick, PhD , Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Brian Dodge, PhD , Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Martin Weinberg, PhD , Sociology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Michael Reece, PhD , Dept of Applied Health Science, Indiana University-Bloomington, Bloomington, IN
Background: Current practices regarding HIV prevention often group together non-heterosexual men into a single category of MSM. Grouping men this way limits our ability to explore sexual behaviors between groups of men within this categorization in a nuanced and thoughtful manner.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey utilizing community-based methods was sent to members of various “bear” related websites. Men were asked a series of questions with regard to sexual behaviors and health. Inclusion required men to identify as a “bear” or with the “bear” community, be at least 18 years of age, and be a current U.S. citizen or resident.

Results: The sample was comprised of 1,250 men the majority of whom identified as White (96.1%), and had at least some college education (92.1%). A quarter (25.0%) of participants indicated being in a sexually monogamous romantic relationship. Self reported rates of viral disease acquisition varied, with rates of HIV being highest (11.0%), followed by HPV (8.5%), and HSV-2 (5.9%). Rates of bacterial STI in the previous 2 years included Chlamydia (3.1%)and Gonorrhea (1.6%). The most commonly reported sexual behaviors during the last sexual event were performing oral (77.6%) and receiving oral sex (77.6%). Over half (62.3%) believed their last sexual partner was a bear.

Conclusions: These data suggest that when compared to other groups of MSM, or MSM as a whole, bears have lower rates of disease, but participate in similar sexual behaviors. Further research is needed to explore contextual factors that may influence protective behaviors within the bear community.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Provide a definition of what is meant by bear and bear community. 2. Present frequencies of sexual health outcomes and behaviors. 3. Explain the importance of investigating sexual sub-cultural communities with regard HIV/STI prevention.

Keywords: Gay Men, HIV/AIDS

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: It is my from my dissertation data and I am currently completing my PhD in Health Behavior.
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.