The Role of Alcohol and Substance Use in Risky Sexual Behavior Among Older Men Who Have Sex With Men: A Review and Critique of the Current Literature
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- Heath, J., Lanoye, A. & Maisto, S.A. AIDS Behav (2012) 16: 578. doi:10.1007/s10461-011-9921-2
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HIV incidence is increasing among men who have sex with men (MSM) despite years of prevention education and intervention efforts. Whereas there has been considerable progress made in identifying risk factors among younger MSM, older MSM have been largely neglected. In particular, the role of alcohol and drug use in conjunction with sex has not been thoroughly studied in older MSM samples. This article reviews the small body of literature examining the association of substance abuse and risky sexual behavior in this population and provides a methodological critique of the reviewed studies. The data show that older MSM are engaging in risky sexual behavior, with the likelihood of engaging in risky sexual activities increasing with the use of alcohol and other drugs. Methodological limitations prevent strong conclusions regarding whether the sexual risk behaviors of older MSM differ from those of younger MSM, and the extent to which alcohol and drug use may differentially contribute to engagement in sexual risk-taking as a function of age. Future research is needed to clarify these associations.