Condom Promotion Among Young Adult Gay Men: Formative Research to Guide a Health Communication Campaign

Elisabeth Cohn, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Globally, men who have sex with men (MSM) are 19 times more likely to be infected with HIV. In the United States, this population is the only group in which new HIV diagnoses increased in the past decade, and simultaneously saw a drastic increase in incidence rates of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as well. Condoms are widely known to confer effective protection against both HIV and other STIs, yet use of condoms in this population is decreasing. This study sought to address this long-standing public health issue through (a) identifying, from primary data collection, reasons for non-use of condoms, (b) using this information to develop recommendations for a health communication campaign. Recommendations were guided by in-depth interviews with 15 young adult, sexually active males living in Austin, Texas who self-identified as being gay. Interviews revealed that gay men were typically not having conversations with their sex partners about using condoms anymore; and therefore, it was common for them to engage in condomless anal intercourse. Several reasons were provided for why they believed this was happening, including decreased perceived severity of HIV/STIs, decreased perceived susceptibility of getting infected—largely influenced by the availability of PrEP as HIV prevention, as well as changes in social norms due to decreased awareness about using condoms. Given these findings, recommendations for a future campaign propose messaging that motivates gay men to communicate with their partners about using condoms. The campaign should include messages that are factual and shocking or emotional and intimate. Visuals and verbiage tied to the campaign should be relevant and relatable to everyday life of gay men. The goal of the campaign is to increase the presence of communication about condoms to influence social norms about using condoms, to in turn make it easier and more common for guys to ask their partners to use condoms. Based on participant insight, increased conversation about condoms is likely to result in increased condom use among this population.^

Subject Area

Communication|LGBTQ studies|Public health

Recommended Citation

Cohn, Elisabeth, "Condom Promotion Among Young Adult Gay Men: Formative Research to Guide a Health Communication Campaign" (2017). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI10275292.