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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Indicators of HIV-risk resilience among men who have sex with men: a content analysis of online profiles

Jaclyn M. White Hughto A B H , Anna P. Hidalgo C , Angela R. Bazzi A D , Sari L. Reisner A E F and Matthew J. Mimiaga A F G
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A The Fenway Institute, Fenway Health, 1340 Boylston Street, 8th Floor, Boston, MA 02215, USA.

B Yale School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, 60 College Street, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.

C Columbia University, Department of Sociology, 606 West 122nd Street, New York, NY 10027, USA.

D Boston University School of Public Health, Department of Community Health Sciences, 801 Massachusetts Avenue, Crosstown Center, 4th Floor, Boston, MA 02118, USA.

E Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Division of General Pediatrics, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

F Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

G Brown University, Institute for Community Health Promotion, 21 South Main Street, 8th Floor Providence, RI 02912, USA.

H Corresponding author. Email address: jwhite@fenwayhealth.org

Sexual Health 13(5) 436-443 https://doi.org/10.1071/SH16023
Submitted: 1 August 2015  Accepted: 23 March 2016   Published: 2 June 2016

Abstract

Background: HIV-risk resilience, or positive adaptation in the face of risk, is increasingly being recognised as an important characteristic among men who have sex with men (MSM). However, resilience in the context of online partner seeking remains underexplored among MSM. Methods: Using content analysis methodology, this study operationalised indicators of HIV-risk resilience in the profiles of 933 MSM using a sexual networking website. HIV-risk resilience included endorsing foreplay only (non-penetrative sex) or a versatile sexual position; being “out” (e.g. disclosed sexual orientation), having a profile photo, seeking friendship, seeking a relationship, serosorting, not endorsing alcohol or drug use, safer sexual adventurism (e.g. role playing, bondage), and safer sex. Results: The majority of men were between 18 and 35 years old (76.0%) and 73.3% were racial/ethnic minorities. The mean number of resilience components endorsed was 5.2 (s.d. = 1.5; range 0–9). Nearly half (48.0%) reported being “out” and 68.7% had a profile photo. The majority of men were seeking relationships (66.5%) and/or friendships (69.7%), were sexually versatile (53.3%), and preferred safer sex only (76.3%). The majority did not endorse drug use (82.0%) and 25.4% did not endorse alcohol use. Nearly one-quarter (21.4%) endorsed sexual adventurism and 2.5% were serosorting by partner’s HIV negative status. Conclusion: HIV-risk resilience may be common among MSM using sexual networking websites and may manifest in safer sex intentions. Rather than exclusively focusing on sexual risk reduction, health promotion efforts targeting MSM online should acknowledge, measure, and leverage existent HIV-risk resilience strategies in this group.

Additional keywords: health behaviour, HIV prevention, Internet, sexual health, sexual risk.


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