AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 19, Issue 12, pp 2224–2233 | Cite as

Understanding Gay Community Subcultures: Implications for HIV Prevention

  • Garrett Prestage
  • Graham Brown
  • John De Wit
  • Benjamin Bavinton
  • Christopher Fairley
  • Bruce Maycock
  • Colin Batrouney
  • Phillip Keen
  • Ian Down
  • Mohamed Hammoud
  • Iryna Zablotska
Original Paper


Gay and bisexual men (GBM) who participate in gay community subcultures have different profiles, including differing risk behaviors. We examined men’s participation in gay community subcultures, and its association with risk behavior. In a cross-sectional survey, 849 GBM provided information about men in their personal networks. We devised measures of their participation in five subcultural groupings and explored their associations with sexual behavior. We identified five subcultural groupings: sexually adventurous; bear tribes; alternative queer; party scene; and sexually conservative. Higher scores on the sexually adventurous measure was associated with being older, having more gay friends, being HIV-positive, and being more sexually active. It was also independently associated with unprotected anal intercourse with casual partners (AOR 1.82; 95 % CI 1.20–2.76; p = 0.005). HIV prevention strategies need to account for the different subcultural groupings in which GBM participate. Measures of engagement with gay subcultures are useful indicators of differential rates of risk behavior and modes of participation in gay community life. Men in more sexually adventurous subcultures are more likely to engage in sexual risk behavior.


Gay men Men who have sex with men Gay community Gay subcultures Sexual adventurism HIV Unprotected anal intercourse Risk behavior Networks Sexuality Sexual behavior 



This study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. The Kirby Institute is affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales. The Centre for Social Research in Health is affiliated with the Faculty of Arts, University of New South Wales. The Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society (ARCSHS) is affiliated with the Faculty of Health Sciences, La Trobe University. The Kirby Institute, CSRH, and ARCSHS receive funding from the Commonwealth of Australia Department of Health and Ageing.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Garrett Prestage
    • 1
    • 2
  • Graham Brown
    • 2
    • 3
  • John De Wit
    • 4
  • Benjamin Bavinton
    • 1
  • Christopher Fairley
    • 5
  • Bruce Maycock
    • 3
  • Colin Batrouney
    • 6
  • Phillip Keen
    • 1
  • Ian Down
    • 1
  • Mohamed Hammoud
    • 1
  • Iryna Zablotska
    • 1
  1. 1.Kirby InstituteUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia
  2. 2.Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and SocietyLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Western Australian Centre for Health Promotion ResearchCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  4. 4.Centre for Social Research in HealthUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia
  5. 5.University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  6. 6.Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health CentreMelbourneAustralia

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