Number of casual male sexual partners and associated factors among men who have sex with men: results from the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance system

BMC Public Health. 2011 Mar 25;11:189. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-11-189.


Background: In 2006, the majority of new HIV infections were in MSM. We sought to describe numbers of casual sex partners among US MSM.

Methods: Data are from the first MSM cycle of the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance system, conducted from 2003 to 2005. Relationships between number of casual male sex partners within the previous year and demographic information, self-reported HIV status, and risk behaviors were determined through regression models.

Results: Among 11,191 sexually active MSM, 76% reported a casual male partner. The median casual partner number was three. Lower number of casual partners was associated with black race, Hispanic ethnicity, and having a main sex partner in the previous year. Factors associated with a higher number included gay identity, exchange sex, both injection and non-injection drug use. Being HIV-positive was associated with more partners among non-blacks only. Age differences in partner number were seen only among chat room users.

Conclusions: MSM who were black, Hispanic or had a main sex partner reported fewer casual sex partners. Our results suggest specific populations of MSM who may benefit most from interventions to reduce casual partner numbers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Blacks / psychology*
  • Blacks / statistics & numerical data
  • HIV Infections / ethnology
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Homosexuality, Male / ethnology
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Partners*
  • United States
  • Young Adult