Sexual risk behavior among young gay- and bisexual men in the Netherlands

Published: July 22, 2010

Sexual risk behavior among young gay- and bisexual men in the Netherlands

P. van Beek1, E. Roos1, H. Hospers2

1Schorer, HIV/STI Prevention, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands

Background: Two studies that have collected data about young gay and bisexual men (YGBM) in the Netherlands shall be presented. In both studies, a relatively high level of unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) among YGBM was reported. These studies underscore the need for development of HIV-preventive interventions targeting YGBM.
Methods: Data were gathered by means of online and tailored questionnaires. Outcomes is a longitudinal research project aimed to study sexual risk behavior and coming-out issues of YGBM. The study population consisted of 185 YGBM, who are in the midst of their coming-out. Schorer Monitor is an annual cross-sectional behavioral surveillance on health, well-being and sexuality of men who have sex with men (MSM). More than 3000 gay and bisexual men respond each year.
Results: Outcomes found that it is not unlikely that YGBM report UAI. Overall 45% of the respondents reported UAI with their first same-sex partner. In addition to this, between 34% and 37% of respondents engaged in at least one episode of UAI in the six months preceding each data wave. In Schorer Monitor, UAI among 25 year-old and younger participants increased from 32% in 2006 to 37% in 2008. Seeking casual sex partners on the internet correspond with more UAI (36%) than those who do not (23%), while most young MSM meet their sex partners on the internet.
Conclusions: Data clearly indicate that YGBM are not sufficiently prepared for HIV and STI risks and thus form a high risk group that needs special attention. These studies provide information with respect to the content of HIV-preventive interventions targeting YGBM. It is necessary to educate and inform YGBM as early as possible and facilitate easy access to testing facilities. During the development of interventions for YGBM it is important to take into account their specific risk factors, needs and behavior.

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