Community attitudes to sex on premises venues and their patrons

Published: August 1, 2008

Community attitudes to sex on premises venues and their patrons

Background: In developing health promotion interventions for sex on premises venues (SOPVs) it is critical to understand the place they have in the communities that access them.

Methods: An anonymous, self-complete questionnaire was administered to men attending the Midsumma gay community carnival in 2007. The survey consisted of 21 items assessing participant characteristics and knowledge and attitudes relating to SOPVs and their patrons.

Results: A total of 287 surveys were returned. Mean age was 39 years. 50% were in a regular relationship. 51% had had an HIV test in the previous 12 months and 8% of the sample was HIV positive. 8% had had an STI in the previous 12 months. 46% had met a sexual partner at an SOPV in the 12 months prior to survey. Generally attitudes indicate little community disapproval of venues and their patrons. Respondents tended to disagree with statements that characterise patrons of SOPVs negatively. There was fairly comprehensive rejection of the premise that closing venues would reduce HIV/STI infections or reduce the amount of sex gay men had. When asked to rate how they might feel telling their gay friends that they had met a new boyfriend at a number of different places, men were significantly less comfortable reporting SOPVs than other settings (including online sites). Generally SOPV users were more strongly supportive of SOPVs and demonstrated a more nuanced conceptualisation of patrons.

Conclusions: Understanding what the peers of SOPV patrons believe about the venues and their customers can help us to tailor messages that can: address stigmatisation of users if this is evident; target specific populations in ‘insider’ language; mobilise patron expectations of venue standards; suggest approaches that embed SOPV practice in broader social and sexual practices; or avoid reinforcing typologies that distance patrons from the target message.

-Abstract available at link below-

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