AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 681–689 | Cite as

Sexually Explicit Media and Condomless Anal Sex Among Gay and Bisexual Men

  • Thomas H. F. Whitfield
  • H. Jonathon Rendina
  • Christian Grov
  • Jeffrey T. ParsonsEmail author
Original Paper


Gay and bisexual men (GBM) have reported viewing significantly more sexually explicit media (SEM) than heterosexual men. There is some evidence that SEM depicting bareback anal sex may be linked to engagement in condomless anal sex (CAS) and thus HIV/STI transmission among GBM. A nationwide sample of HIV-negative GBM in the U.S. completed an online survey that included measures on SEM consumption (both overall frequency and percentage viewed depicting bareback sex) and reported on CAS in the past 3 months. Data showed that there was no main effect for the frequency of SEM watched in association on either the number of CAS acts with casual partners or the probability of engaging in CAS during a casual sex event. However, there was an interaction between amount of SEM consumed and percentage of bareback SEM consumed on both outcomes, such that men who reported both a high frequency of SEM consumption and a high percentage of their SEM being bareback reported the highest levels of risk behavior. These findings highlight the role that barebacking depicted in SEM may play in the normalization of sexual risk behaviors for GBM. Interventions looking to target the role SEM may play in the lives of GBM should examine what variables may help to mediate associations between viewing SEM and engaging in risk behavior.


Gay and bisexual men Sexually explicit media Pornography HIV Condomless anal sex 


Hombres gay y bisexuales (HGB) han reportado mirar significativamente más material audiovisual sexual explícito (MASE) que hombres heterosexuales. Existe evidencia de que el MASE que muestra “barebacking” o sexo a pelo puede estar relacionado con el sexo anal sin condones y por lo tanto el riesgo de transmisión del VIH y otras enfermedades de transmisión sexual (ETS) entre HGB. Una muestra nacional de HGB VIH-negativos en los Estados Unidos completó una encuesta online que incluía medidas sobre el uso de MASE (la frecuencia en general y el porcentaje del material visto que incluía sexo a pelo) y reportaron sobre coito anal sin condones durante los 3 meses anteriores. Los datos indicaron que no hubo efecto principal para la frecuencia de MASE consumido asociada con el número de coitos anales sin condón con parejas sexuales causales o la probabilidad de practicar coito anal sin condón durante un encuentro sexual casual. Sin embargo, hubo una interacción entre la cantidad de MASE consumido y el porcentaje de MASE que incluía sexo a pelo en ambos resultados, de manera que los hombres que reportaron una alta frecuencia de consumo de MASE y que un alto porcentaje de ése MASE era sexo a pelo reportaron los niveles más altos de conducta de riesgo. Estos hallazgos subrayan el rol que el sexo a pelo que se muestra en el MASE podría jugar en la normalización de conductas sexuales de riesgo para los HGB. Intervenciones dirigidas hacia abordar el rol que el MASE podría cumplir en la vida sexual de los HGB deberían examinar qué variables pueden contribuir a mediar la asociación entre el mirar MASE y el involucrarse en conductas sexuales de riesgo.



One Thousand Strong study was funded by a research grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01-DA036466; Jeffrey T. Parsons & Christian Grov, MPIs). H. Jonathon Rendina was supported by a Career Development Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (K01-DA039030; H. Jonathon Rendina, PI). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of the other members of the One Thousand Strong Study Team (Ana Ventuneac, Demetria Cain, Mark Pawson, Ruben Jimenez, Chloe Mirzayi, Brett Millar, Raymond Moody, and Steve John) and other staff from the Center for HIV/AIDS Educational Studies and Training (Chris Hietikko, Andrew Cortopassi, Brian Salfas, Doug Keeler, Chris Murphy, Carlos Ponton, and Paula Bertone). We would also like to thank the staff at Community Marketing Inc. (David Paisley, Heather Torch, and Thomas Roth). Finally, we thank Jeffrey Schulden at NIDA, the anonymous reviewers of this manuscript, and all of our participants in the One Thousand Strong study.


Funding support was provided by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (R01-DA036466; PIs: Parsons & Grov). H. Jonathon Rendina was supported by a National Institute on Drug Abuse Career Development Award (K01-DA039030).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

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

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for HIV/AIDS Educational Studies & TrainingHunter College of the City University of New York (CUNY)New YorkUSA
  2. 2.Health Psychology and Clinical Science Doctoral ProgramThe Graduate Center CUNYNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyHunter College of CUNYNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health PolicyNew YorkUSA

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