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Study: U.S., U.K. Gay Men Differ on “Sex”

Study: U.S., U.K. Gay Men Differ on “Sex”

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Come again? A recent study published by the Kinsey Institute found that gay men in the United States and the United Kingdom possessed different ideas of what it means to have "had sex."

According to a news release from the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University, the study consulted hundreds of self-identified gay men across a range of ages in the U.S. and the U.K. to ask whether they believed certain behaviors constituted having "had sex." Findings were published in the journal AIDS Care in July.

While nearly 95% of participants believed that penile-anal intercourse constituted having "had sex," the institute reports that significantly lower percentages believed the same about giving oral-genital stimulation, and giving and receiving manual-anal stimulation, oral-anal stimulation, and sex-toy stimulation. More gay men in the U.K. believed that the different behaviors constituted having "had sex," although more gay men in both areas believed the behaviors constituted having "had sex" compared to heterosexual people in similar surveys.

The findings hold important implications for clinical and research settings, according to the institute.

"First, because an individual's definition of 'sex' influences the number of reported 'sexual partners' and frequency of 'sexual activity,' it is important for researchers and clinicians to be as behaviorally specific as possible when posing questions to their participants and patients during STI and HIV/AIDS risk assessments," reports the institute. "Second, participants and patients might construct their definitions of having 'had sex' or their number of 'sexual partners' based on the perceived stigma of being labeled 'at risk,' 'sexually compulsive' or 'promiscuous.' Conversely, participants and patients also may construct their definitions of 'sex' based on the benefit of receiving the most accurate risk assessment and treatment."

Read more about the study here.

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