Sex Behaviors as Social Cues Motivating Social Venue Patronage Among Young Black Men Who Have Sex with Men
HIV prevention programs often focus on the physical social venues where men who have sex with men (MSM) frequent as sites where sex behaviors are assumed to be practiced and risk is conferred. But, how exactly these behaviors influence venue patronage is not well understood. In this study, we present a two-mode network analysis that determines the extent that three types of sex behaviors—condomless sex, sex–drug use, and group sex—influence the patronage of different types of social venues among a population sample of young Black MSM (YBMSM) (N = 623). A network analytic technique called exponential random graph modeling was used in a proof of concept analysis to verify how each sex behavior increases the likelihood of a venue patronage tie when estimated as either: (1) an attribute of an individual only and/or (2) a shared attribute between an individual and his peers. Findings reveal that sex behaviors, when modeled only as attributes possessed by focal individuals, were no more or less likely to affect choices to visit social venues. However, when the sex behaviors of peers were also taken into consideration, we learn that individuals were statistically more likely in all three behavioral conditions to go places that attracted other MSM who practiced the same behaviors. This demonstrates that social venues can function as intermediary contexts in which relationships can form between individuals that have greater risk potential given the venues attraction to people who share the same risk tendencies. As such, structuring interventions around these settings can be an effective way to capture the attention of YBMSM and engage them in HIV prevention.
KeywordsMen who have sex with men Sexual risk Social venues Social networks Exponential random graph models HIV prevention
We would like to thank Ishida Robinson, Eve Zurawski, Billy Davis and Michelle Taylor for their invaluable support. We also thank study participants for contributing to the network cohort study.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
This study was funded by the NIH (R01DA033875 and R01MH100021).
Conflict of interest
The authors 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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