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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has spent over $400,000 studying the satisfaction levels of the first sexual experiences of young gay men.
The four-year study, being conducted by Johns Hopkins University, is examining the “meaning and function” of first “penetrative same-sex sexual experiences.”
“Prior work has demonstrated that same-sex relationship trajectories support the development of self-esteem in young gay and bisexual men, while opposite same-sex relationships may be associated with homonegativity,” a grant for the project, which began in 2012, states. “Little is known about the meaning and function of first same-sex experience in [African-American] AA adolescent men and whether satisfaction with first penetrative same-sex experience impacts sexual trajectories.”
“The goal of this project is to understand the meaning and function of first same-sex sexual experience and to prospectively be able to assess its impact on subsequent sexual experiences, young adult sexual health and health protective behaviors,” the grant said.
The project has cost taxpayers $410,265 so far, with funding not set to expire until May 2016.
The study is also examining the satisfaction levels of young gay men during their first time.
“The research phase of the award is to explore the reasons for and satisfaction with first and subsequent penetrative same-sex sexual experiences (PSSE) and to examine the role of first PSSE on second and subsequent PSSEs in AA men (Study 1) and how social context impacts sexual satisfaction with first PSSE,” the grant said.
The study will also look at the amount of time between the first and second partner, depending on the “sexual satisfaction” of the first “PSSE.”
Forty-five African American adolescent males are undergoing “in-depth” interviews for the study. The research will also create an Internet survey.
The NIH grant said that the study is necessary due to a lack of research focusing on young African-American males and will be beneficial to preventing HIV.
“The lack of representativeness of AA adolescent males in studies focused on early same-sex sexual relationships contrasted with high rates of HIV in AA adolescent MSM suggests that this project fulfills a need to understand whether these early same-sex sexual experiences impact risk for HIV,” the grant said.
“AA [men who have sex with men] MSM struggle with a sexual identity that is stigmatized in their communities, along with discrimination, and racism,” the grant continued. “As a result, first romantic and sexual experiences are likely to differ from other adolescent groups in ways that make them particularly vulnerable to HIV.”
The study is meant to help the lead researcher, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Dr. Renata Arrington-Sanders, to become a “successful independent minority investigator” and a “rigorous behavioral scientist.”
Arrington-Sanders research focuses on “improving the sexual health of African American adolescent men who have sex with men and also HIV prevention community-based efforts and linking HIV-infected adolescents to care.”
Arrington-Sanders previously studied why some young African-American gay men seek out older partners, finding that older partners had “emotional maturity,” could expose them to “more life experiences,” and helped young men “sort through sexual position and how to perform in relationships.”