Characterizing substance use among men who have sex with men presenting to a sexually transmitted infection clinic

Int J STD AIDS. 2021 Mar;32(4):314-321. doi: 10.1177/0956462420965076. Epub 2020 Dec 8.


Illicit substance use poses a significant public health challenge in the United States. Certain populations are disproportionately impacted by substance use disorders. Men who have sex with men (MSM) have been shown to be three to four times more likely to report substance use compared to the general population. MSM also make up a disproportionate number of new cases of STIs. The impact of substance use disorders on STI and HIV infection risk has been well documented among this vulnerable population. Understanding the intersection of substance use and sexual risk is important to design effective interventions to reduce substance use and risk of STIs. However, little is known about the relationship between venues used to arrange sexual encounters including hook-up apps and substance use. This study describes the demographics and social network characteristics of MSM who presented to an STI clinic in Rhode Island including reported substance use and the primary hook-up venues used for meeting sexual partners. The results show that individuals using online venues to meet sexual partners were more likely to report substance use, indicating the possible utility of interventions using social media to address the unique vulnerability of STI and HIV infection for substance using MSM.

Keywords: Homosexual; North America; high risk behaviour; men who have sex with men.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexual Partners*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • United States / epidemiology