Online Program

Relationship Definitions and Condom Use among Gay and Bisexual Men in Atlanta, Georgia

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Tamar Goldenberg, MPH, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Rob Stepenson, PhD, Department of Health Behavior and Biological Sciences, School of Nursing, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Introduction:  Men who have sex with men (MSM) account for a disproportionate burden of HIV incidence in the United States.  This paper examines how relationship definitions shape sexual risk-taking among MSM.

Methods:  In this qualitative longitudinal study in Atlanta, gay and bisexual men completed three web-based quantitative diaries to track experiences of anal and/or oral sex.  In each diary, men elaborated on up to three partners, explaining how they met the partner, how long they knew each other, the type of sex they had, condom use, and ranking of perceptions of HIV risk.  Participants also chose applicable statements to describe emotional relationship states.  Diaries were discussed in timeline-based interviews at the end of the study period.

Results: 25 men completed a total of 75 diaries.  The number of sex partners in each diary varied from 0-11.  77 partners were discussed in more depth; 43 of them were partners who were met online, 17 were committed relationships, 54 were anal sex partners, and 29 were partners with whom the participant had condomless anal sex.  We categorized partners into five groups: 1) Formal and committed monogamous relationships; 2) Formal and committed non-monogamous relationships; 3) Casual, non-monogamous, and uncommitted relationships; 4) Developing relationships where the status of formality and monogamy were not yet established; and 5) One-time sexual partners.  Decisions about condom use varied depending on the formality of the relationship and agreements regarding monogamy. 

Discussion:  These findings indicate that relationship definitions and agreements shape sexual decision-making and condom use among MSM.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify sexual patterns among gay and bisexual men in Atlanta, GA. Describe how relationship definitions influence condom use and sexual decision-making among gay and bisexual men. Identify how relationship definitions influence HIV risk perceptions among gay and bisexual men.

Keyword(s): HIV/AIDS, Sexual Risk Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the program manager of this research project, which involved designing the study and collecting and analyzing the data. I have my MPH from Emory University and have managed 4 qualitative research projects.
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.