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Study finds anal sex stigma affects healthcare access of gay, bi men

A study found that stigma toward anal sexuality was associated with having ever received an anal examination or anal swab among gay and bisexual men.

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Sex negative views continue to exist, affecting healthcare seeking behaviors of people, including members of the LGBTQIA community.

This was found by a study that eyed to examine if stigma toward anal sexuality was associated with having ever received an anal examination or anal swab among gay and bisexual men (GBM).

The study – “Gay and Bisexual Men Who Report Anal Sex Stigma Alongside Discomfort Discussing Anal Sex with Health Workers Are Less Likely to Have Ever Received an Anal Examination or Anal Swab” by Bryan A. Kutner, Jane M. Simoni, Will DeWitt, Michael M. Gaisa, and Theodorus G.M. Sandfort – appeared in LGBT Health.

For this study conducted from 2017, the researchers conducted a cross-sectional online survey with 1,513 adult cisgender GBM living in the US. They used structural equation modeling to test whether the Anal Sex Stigma Scales (a validated measure comprising provider stigma, self-stigma, and silence) was negatively associated with lifetime receipt of anorectal examination or anal swabbing by a medical provider. The model assessed mediation by respondents’ comfort discussing anal sex practices with health workers and adjusted for possible confounders.

“As hypothesized, anal sex stigma was associated with less comfort discussing anal sex (β = −0.44, 95% confidence interval [CI]: −0.50 to −0.38, p < 0.001), and greater comfort was associated with greater likelihood of screening (β = 0.28, 95% CI: 0.19 to 0.37, p < 0.001),” the researchers found.

The model demonstrated good fit (root mean square error of approximation = 0.045, comparative fit index, and Tucker–Lewis index each = 0.99) and adjusted for everyday discrimination, social support specific to anal sex, age, income, education, medical coverage, outness, and ethnic/racial identification. Collectively, model variables accounted for 48% of the variance in screening (p < 0.001).

The researchers also found that GBM who endorsed less anal sex stigma reported greater comfort discussing anal sex with health workers and were more likely to have ever received anal health screening by a medical provider.

To improve anal health and cancer prevention among GBM, “anal sex stigma and related discomfort discussing anal sex with health workers are targets for intervention.”

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