Trajectories of sex on premises visits: a systematic contribution to targeting health promotion to gay and bisexual men
Background: Sex on premises venues (SOPV) are a primary site for health promotion interventions. Understanding the sexual practice of SOPV patrons requires an understanding of the ways in which the physical and social environments shape, constrain or co-vary with this practice.
Methods: Detailed interviews with SOPV patrons capture in rich narrative detail the exact nature, duration and sequencing of the sexual interactions that occurred during the men’s most recent visit to an SOPV. The data allow us to describe trajectories of engagement with sexual possibilities during visit to an SOPV.
Results: 219 men completed telephone interviews within 48 hours of their visit. Interviews detailed the pattern of visits to SOPVs using time sequences that plotted their venue trajectory. Each sexual episode was further detailed in terms of partner characteristics, sexual practices and sequencing. 82% of men were HIV-negative. 68% of the men described themselves as single and 27% had a regular male partner. Most visits lasted between one and four hours. The most clearly sex-related sites (cruising areas, cubicles and wet areas) account for 70% of men’s time. 74% of men’s time does not involve a sexual interaction. Sexual encounters lasted an average of 26 minutes. Over half of the encounters took place in cubicles. Cubicles accounted for 83.9% of encounters involving anal intercourse, both protected and unprotected. The partner’s age was more likely to be undetermined in cruising areas than in other sites such as cubicles. Partners’ ages were assessed as somewhat older in cruising areas and wet areas compared to cubicles. Partner’s HIV status was unrelated to site.
Conclusions: Detailed examination of trajectories of sexual practice in SOPVs provides useful contextual direction for effective targeting and delivery of health promotion interventions. Understanding SOPVs as a complex and dynamic social space will enhance outreach efficacy.
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