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High-Risk Behavior by Gay Males More Common With Low Self-Esteem

July 02, 1998

Young gay males are more likely to engage in high-risk sexual behaviors if they have low self-esteem or live in areas with a high amount of homophobia, according to new research from behavioral scientist Craig Waldo of UC San Francisco. Waldo and his colleagues studied 302 young gay men living in Eugene, Ore., Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz, all communities with few gay community resources.

The team used questionnaires to assess the subjects' self-image and sexual behaviors. Waldo told the AIDS Congress that 35% of the men had unprotected anal intercourse in the two months prior to the survey. He said that among those men "who accept themselves as gay the most," 30% had engaged in unsafe sex. That contrasted with 46% among those who "accept themselves the least as gay," he said. Waldo concluded that HIV prevention campaigns would be more effective if they help young men come to grips with their sexual orientation.

Reported from Geneva by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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