Background: During the past 10 years, increased rates of STI and corresponding rates of unsafe sexual behaviors have been documented among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the US, yet limited research has focused on the behaviors of MSM from rural communities.
Objectives: We examined the sexual and health-related behaviors of MSM living in a rural area of the US in order to understand the sexual health repertoire of men in these areas.
Methods: A total of 309 participants recruited from local venues frequented by MSM completed an anonymous Internet-based survey that assessed sexual behaviors, condom use, and men’s engagement with community-based health programs and services. Data were analyzed using standard univariate statistical techniques.
Results: The mean age of participants was 29.4 years (SD = 11.33), who were primarily White (89.6%), single (63.8%), and sexually active (77.0%), with a mean past 30 day number of sexual partners of 3.4 (SD = 8.04). While over half (60.2%) reported having ever been tested for HIV, only 26.2% had been tested for other STIs in the past year. Of the men, 30.7% reported insertive anal intercourse and 27.8% reported receptive anal intercourse within the past 30 days; of these, 18.4% reporting that some of their insertive anal behaviors had been unprotected and 16.8% reporting the same for their receptive anal intercourse behaviors.
Conclusions: Results demonstrate that most men in this sample were sexually active, had multiple partners, and reported sexual events in which a condom was not used. Each of these factors may present an increased risk for HIV and STI acquisition.
Implications for Programs, Policy, and/or Research: A greater understanding of the relational and contextual factors related to sexual behaviors among rural MSM will be helpful to the design of effective programs for men in these often underserved communities.