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Substance Use, Medications for Sexual Facilitation, and Sexual Risk Behavior Among Traveling Men Who Have Sex With Men

Benotsch, Eric G. PhD*†; Seeley, Salvatore MSW; Mikytuck, John J. BS§; Pinkerton, Steven D. PhD; Nettles, Christopher D. MA*; Ragsdale, Kathleen PhD

doi: 10.1097/01.olq.0000218862.34644.0e

Objectives: The objective of the study was to examine correlates of sexual risk behavior among men who have sex with men (MSM) traveling for leisure.

Study Design: MSM (N = 304) visiting popular tourist areas completed a brief survey assessing sexual behavior and substances used while on vacation, including the use of erectile dysfunction medications (e.g., Viagra).

Results: Forty-seven percent of the respondents were sexually active during their vacation, with a mean of 1.33 unprotected anal sex acts during their brief stay (mean = 3.6 days). More than half of the sexually active men reported sex with a partner of unknown HIV status. Individuals reporting substance use or taking erectile dysfunction medications reported higher rates of sexual risk behaviors.

Conclusion: Many MSM travelers report behaviors that may put their health at risk, including substance use and unprotected sexual activity. Interventions designed to reduce risk behaviors among MSM tourists are needed.

A study of traveling men who have sex with men (MSM) to 2 popular gay tourist destinations found that MSM on vacation who used alcohol, illegal drugs, or medications for sexual facilitation (e.g., Viagra) reported significantly higher rates of sexual risk behaviors.

From the *University of Colorado at Denver & Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado; the †Center for AIDS Intervention Research, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; ‡Camp Rehoboth, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware; §AIDS Help, Inc., Key West, Florida; and the ∥Medical and Health Research Association of New York City, Inc. (MHRA) and the National Development and Research Institutes (NDRI), New York, NY

This study was supported, in part, by grants R34-MH 073409, R01-MH72474, T32-MH19985, K02-MH01919, and P30-MH52776 from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Correspondence: Eric G. Benotsch, PhD, University of Colorado at Denver & Health Sciences Center, Campus Box 173, PO Box 173364, Denver, CO 80217. E-mail:

Received for publication December 12, 2005, and accepted February 21, 2006.

© Copyright 2006 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association