Delay Discounting of Protected Sex: Relationship Type and Sexual Orientation Influence Sexual Risk Behavior


Sexual discounting, which describes delay discounting of later protected sex vs. immediate unprotected sex (e.g., sex now without a condom vs. waiting an hour to have sex with a condom), is consistently linked to sexual risk behavior. Estimates suggest that over two-thirds of HIV transmissions occur between individuals in committed relationships, but current sexual discounting tasks examine sexual discounting only with hypothetical strangers, leaving a gap in our understanding of sexual discounting with committed sexual partners. We used the Sexual Discounting Task (SDT) to compare discounting rates between men who have sex with men (MSM; n=99) and heterosexual men (n=144) and tested a new SDT condition evaluating sexual discounting with main partners. MSM in committed relationships discounted protected sex with their main partner at higher rates than heterosexual men, and discounting rates correlated with self-report measures of condom use, impulsivity/sensation seeking, and substance use. These findings suggest that sexual discounting is a critical factor potentially related to increased HIV transmission between MSM in committed relationships and may be an important target for intervention and prevention.

Archives of Sexual Behavior
Nathaniel Haines
Nathaniel Haines
Data Scientist & Computational Psychologist, PhD

An academic Bayesian who is currently exploring the high dimensional posterior distribution of life

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