Understanding of norms regarding sexual practices among gay men: literature review

AIDS Behav. 2013 May;17(4):1245-54. doi: 10.1007/s10461-012-0309-8.


Since there is little evidence about gay community norms across the world, we reviewed published literature in this area and discuss implications for prevention and research. Eight databases were searched for articles and 16 were considered suitable for analysis. All used quantitative methodology and seven were based on a published theoretical framework. The most common theory employed by four out of the seven papers was the Theory of Reasoned Action. All papers reviewed examined norms on condom use but norms on other risk reduction practices were not explored in these papers. Seven (44 %) studies found those men who perceived strong social support from their peers, were less likely to engage in unprotected anal intercourse. This finding suggests that social support from partners and community members plays a role in shaping safe sex norms. Better understanding of norms may help to redress HIV behaviour change programmes, particularly at the time when HIV diagnoses rates are increasing in most gay communities across the world.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Group
  • Sexual Partners
  • Social Networking
  • Social Support*