Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 61–72 | Cite as

The Effects of Sexual Partnership and Relationship Characteristics on Three Sexual Risk Variables in Young Men Who Have Sex with Men

  • Michael E. Newcomb
  • Daniel T. Ryan
  • Robert Garofalo
  • Brian Mustanski
Special Section: Sexual Health in Gay and Bisexual Male Couples


Young men who have sex with men (YMSM) in the United States are experiencing an alarming increase in HIV incidence. Recent evidence suggests that the majority of new HIV infections in YMSM occur in the context of serious relationships, which underscores the importance of examining predictors of sexual risk behavior in the context of sexual partnerships, including relationship type, sexual partner characteristics, and relationship dynamics. The current study aimed to evaluate relationship and sexual partnership influences on sexual risk behavior in YMSM, including differentiating between multiple sexual risk variables (i.e., any unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse, unprotected insertive anal or vaginal intercourse, and unprotected receptive anal intercourse). More serious/familiar partnerships were associated with more sexual risk across all three risk variables, while wanting a relationship to last was protective against risk across all three risk variables. Some variables were differentially linked to unprotected insertive sex (partner gender) or unprotected receptive sex (partner age, partner race, believing a partner was having sex with others, and partners repeated across waves). Sexual risk behavior in YMSM is inconsistent across sexual partnerships and appears to be determined in no small part by sexual partner characteristics, relationship dynamics, and sexual role (i.e., insertive or receptive partner). These influences are critical in understanding sexual risk in YMSM and provide important targets for intervention.


Young men who have sex with men Sexual orientation HIV/AIDS Sexual risk Relationships 



This study was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA025548). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse or the National Institutes of Health.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael E. Newcomb
    • 1
  • Daniel T. Ryan
    • 1
  • Robert Garofalo
    • 2
  • Brian Mustanski
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medical Social Sciences, Feinberg School of MedicineNorthwestern UniversityChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pediatrics, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of ChicagoNorthwestern University Feinberg School of MedicineChicagoUSA

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