Delay Discounting of Protected Sex: Relationship Type and Sexual Orientation Influence Sexual Risk Behavior
Sexual discounting, which describes delay discounting of later protected sex vs. immediate unprotected sex (e.g., sex now without a condom vs. waiting an hour to have sex with a condom), is consistently linked to sexual risk behavior. Estimates suggest that over two-thirds of HIV transmissions occur between individuals in committed relationships, but current sexual discounting tasks examine sexual discounting only with hypothetical strangers, leaving a gap in our understanding of sexual discounting with committed sexual partners. We used the Sexual Discounting Task (SDT) to compare discounting rates between men who have sex with men (MSM; n = 99) and heterosexual men (n = 144) and tested a new SDT condition evaluating sexual discounting with main partners. MSM in committed relationships discounted protected sex with their main partner at higher rates than heterosexual men, and discounting rates correlated with self-report measures of condom use, impulsivity/sensation seeking, and substance use. These findings suggest that sexual discounting is a critical factor potentially related to increased HIV transmission between MSM in committed relationships and may be an important target for intervention and prevention.
KeywordsHIV risk behavior Delay discounting Sexual discounting Impulsivity Sensation seeking
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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