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First Anal Intercourse and Condom Use Among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Switzerland

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to analyze the circumstances of first anal intercourse (FAI) among men who have sex with men (MSM) and to identify factors associated with condom use at this event. We conducted a cross-sectional survey among a convenience sample of MSM living in Switzerland (N = 2,200). Anonymous questionnaires were distributed using Swiss gay communication channels (newspapers, associations, websites) and gay bathhouses. We gathered data on age at FAI, age of the partner, degree of familiarity with him, place of first meeting, and sociodemographic indicators. We did not ask whether FAI was insertive, receptive, or both. Data were stratified by birth year classes (birth cohorts). The median age at FAI fell from 24.5 years among men born before 1965 to 20.0 years among those born between 1975 and 1984 (p < .001). In each birth cohort, between 20 and 30% reported a partner 10 years older or more. Of eight variables examined in multivariate analysis, two were positively associated with condom use: age of participants at FAI and low degree of familiarity between partners. Conversely, large age discrepancy between partners was negatively associated with condom use. In conclusion, our data showed that early initiation of anal intercourse and large age discrepancy were associated with risk taking: a pattern of initiation that may facilitate HIV transmission from older to younger cohorts of MSM. Since age at FAI is on the decrease, there is an urgent need to heighten awareness of prevention actions regarding sexual debut of MSM.

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Acknowledgments

This study was funded by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, contract number 04.000158/2.24.01.-744. We thank the gay organizations, newspapers, and websites who participated in the distribution of the questionnaire. We also thank Brenda Spencer, Ph.D., for comments on an earlier draft of this article.

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Correspondence to Hugues Balthasar.

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Balthasar, H., Jeannin, A. & Dubois-Arber, F. First Anal Intercourse and Condom Use Among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Switzerland. Arch Sex Behav 38, 1000–1008 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-008-9382-5

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