Online Program

Asexual Identities & Sexual Risk Behavior: Implications for Public Health Practice

Monday, November 2, 2015

Megan Simmons, MPH, PhD(c), Department of Applied Health Science, School of Public Health-Bloomington, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Jessica Hille, JD, LLM, PhD(c), Department of Gender Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Stephanie Sanders, PhD, The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
background: Asexuality appears to be increasingly reported as a self-identified category of sexual orientation. Despite growing social and academic interest in asexuality, little is known about the sexual health needs of this population. Research indicates that sexual minorities assumed not to have penetrative sex (e.g. lesbians) are under-screened for STDs. This presents unique challenges related to asexuals and sexual health.

methods: This study examines the attitudes and behavior patterns of n=99 asexual individuals identified during a textual analysis of write-in responses under “Other” for sexual orientation. This study represents a secondary analysis of an existing dataset. Participants were recruited from websites, listservs (e.g. university student groups, LGBT groups, etc.) and broader advertisements on Facebook. Participants completed a brief online questionnaire regarding sociodemographic information, personal attitudes regarding which behaviors count as “sex,” and lifetime sexual behavior patterns.

results: Within the “asexual” category, some individuals also segment themselves based on romantic attraction (i.e. hetero-romantic) or lack thereof. Results indicate that asexual individuals have varied sexual histories, which can include risk behaviors like oral, anal, and penile-vaginal sex. This presentation focuses on behavioral patterns and attitudes regarding which of the behaviors constitute “having sex.”

conclusions: The findings suggest that, as with more dominant sexual orientation categories, it is inaccurate to infer behavioral patterns from self-identity labels alone and that individual definitions of sex vary. Implications for sexual health and clinical practice will be discussed further in this presentation.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related nursing
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the language individuals use to identify themselves as an asexual person. Identify the sexual attitudes and behaviors of people who identify as asexual. Evaluate the ways public health professionals use sexual orientation in sexual health screenings.

Keyword(s): Sexuality, Sexual Risk Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral student and associate instructor for Indiana University's School of Public Health. Additionally, I hold a research position at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, where I study sexual orientation and 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.