Journal of Community Health

, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 343–356 | Cite as

Sexual Risk Behavior In Men Attending Mardi Gras Celebrations In New Orleans, Louisiana

  • Eric G. Benotsch
  • Christopher D. Nettles
  • Felicia Wong
  • Jean Redmann
  • Jill Boschini
  • Steven D. Pinkerton
  • Kathleen Ragsdale
  • John J. Mikytuck


Previous research with travelers points to higher risk behaviors during vacations. Relative to their day-to-day lives, leisure travelers have more free time to pursue sexual activities and are likely to engage in higher rates of substance use than when at home. Risk behaviors during vacation have not been thoroughly examined in men who have sex with men (MSM), a key group at risk for HIV. The present investigation examined substance use, sexual risk behaviors, and components of the Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills (IMB) Model in MSM attending Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans. Almost half of the sexually active men reported having sex with a partner of unknown HIV status while in New Orleans and a similar number did not disclose their own HIV status to all of their sexual partners. Drug use and excessive alcohol use were associated with unprotected sex (ps < .05). Components of the IMB model also predicted sexual risk behavior: individuals with more accurate HIV transmission information reported fewer unprotected sex acts, and motivation to engage in sexual activity on vacation was associated with more unprotected sex (ps < .05). Findings suggest that some MSM on vacation are placing themselves at risk for HIV. Traditional HIV prevention interventions do not readily lend themselves for use with transient populations. New intervention approaches are needed to reduce sexual risk behaviors in persons traveling for leisure.


HIV transmission tourists Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) IMB model 



This study was supported, in part, by grants R21-MH078790, R34-MH 073409, R01-MH72474, T32-MH19985, K02-MH01919, and P30-MH52776 from the National Institute of Mental Health.


  1. 1.
    Shilts R. And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic. New York: Penguin Books, 1987Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Grassly NC, Fraser C, Garnett GP. Host immunity and synchronized epidemics of syphilis across the United States. Nature 2005;433:417–421PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Rodriguez-Garcia R. The health-development link: Travel as a public health issue. J Com Health 2001;26:93–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    UNAIDS. AIDS Epidemic Update: December 2002. Geneva: Author, 2003Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bellis MA., Hughes K, Thomson R, Bennett A. Sexual behavior of young people in international tourist resorts. Sex Trans Inf 2004;80:43–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Rogstad KE. Sex, sun, sea, and STIs: Sexually transmitted infections acquired on holiday. Br Med J 2004;329:214–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Apostolopoulos Y, Sönmez S, Yu CH. HIV-risk behaviors of American spring break vacationers: a case of situational disinhibition? Int J STD AIDS 2002;13:733–743PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bellis MA, Hughes K, Lowey H. Healthy nightclubs and recreational substance use from a harm minimization to a healthy settings approach. Addict Beh 2002;27:1025–1035CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Eiser JR, Ford N. Sexual relationships on holiday: A case of situational disinhibition? J Soc Pers Rel 1995;12:323–339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Mewhinney DM, Herold ES, Maticka-Tyndale E. Sexual scripts and risk-taking of Canadian university students on spring break in Daytona Beach, Florida. Canadian J Hum Sex 1995;4:273–288Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Wright ER. Travel, tourism, and HIV risk among older adults. JAIDS 2003;33:S233–S237PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Egan CE. Sexual behaviours, condom use and factors influencing casual sex among backpackers and other young international travelers. Canadian J Hum Sex 2001;10:41–58Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Maticka-Tyndale E, Herold ES, Oppermann M. Casual sex among Australian Schoolies. J Sex Res 2003;40:158–169PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Clift SM, Forrest SP. Factors associated with gay men’s sexual behaviours and risk on holiday. AIDS Care 1999;11:281–95PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Crosby R, DiClemente RJ, Mettey A. Correlates of recent unprotected anal sex among men having sex with men attending a large sex resort in the south. Sex Trans Dis 2003;30:909–913CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Whittier DK, St. Lawrence JS, Seeley S. Sexual risk behavior of men who have sex with men: Comparison of behavior at home and at a gay resort. Arch Sex Beh 2005;34:95–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Benotsch EG, Mikytuck J, Ragsdale K, Pinkerton SD. Sexual risk and HIV acquisition among MSM travelers to Key West, Florida: A mathematical modeling analysis. AIDS Pat Care STDs 2006;20:549–556CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Benotsch EG, Seeley S, Mikytuck J, Pinkerton SD, Nettles CD, Ragsdale K. Substance use, medications for sexual facilitation, and sexual risk behavior among traveling men who have sex with men. Sex Trans Dis 2006;33:706–711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau. Visitor Statistics. Downloaded from <>, July 3, 2005
  20. 20.
    Fisher JD, Fisher WA. Changing AIDS-risk behavior. PsychBull 1992;111:455–474Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Benotsch EG, Kalichman SC. Preventing HIV and AIDS. In Glenwick D, Jason L (Eds.). Innovative Strategies for Promoting Health and Mental Health across the Lifespan. New York: Springer; 2002. pp. 205–226Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases of HIV infection and AIDS in the United States, 2003. HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, Volume 15. Electronic document available online at, Accessed August 5, 2005
  23. 23.
    Louisiana Office of Public Health. Louisiana HIV/AIDS Annual Report, 2002. Downloaded from, July 3, 2005
  24. 24.
    Kalichman S, Benotsch EG, Rompa D et al. Unwanted sexual experiences and sexual risks in gay and bisexual men: Associations among revictimization, substance use, and psychiatric symptoms. J Sex Res 2001;38:1–9Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kauth MR, St. Lawrence JS, Kelly JA. Reliability of retrospective assessments of sexual HIV risk behavior: A comparison of biweekly, three month, and twelve month self-reports. AIDS Educ Prev 1991;3:207–214PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Benotsch EG, Kalichman S, Cage M. Men who have met sex partners via the Internet: Prevalence, predictors, and implications for HIV prevention. Arch Sex Behav 2002;31:177–183PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Benotsch EG, Pinkerton SD, Dyatlov RV et al. A comparison of HIV/AIDS knowledge and attitudes of STD clinic clients in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Milwaukee, WI, USA. J Com Health 2004;29:451–465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Kelly JA, Murphy DA, Sikkema KJ et al. Randomised, controlled, community-level HIV-prevention intervention for sexual-behaviour among homosexual men in U.S. cities. Lancet 1997;350:1500–1505PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Murphy DA, Stein JA, Schlenger W, Maibach E, NIMH HIV Prevention Trial Group. Conceptualizing the multidimensional nature of self-efficacy: Assessment of situational context and level of behavioral challenge to maintain safer sex. Health Psychol 2001;20:281–290PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Hays WL. Statistics. (4th Edition). Fort Worth: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1988Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Johnson WD, Hedges LV, Ramirez G et al. HIV prevention research for men who have sex with men: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAIDS 2002;30(Suppl. 1):S118–S133PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Stall RD, Hays RB, Waldo CR, Ekstrand M, McFarland W. The Gay ‘90s: A review of research in the 1990s on sexual behavior and HIV risk among men who have sex with men. AIDS 2000;14(suppl. 3):S101–S114PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Kelly JA, St. Lawrence JS, Diaz YE, Stevenson LY. HIV risk behavior reduction following intervention with key opinion leaders of population: an experimental analysis. Am J Pub Health 1991;81:168–171PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Gnoth J. Tourism motivation and expectation formation. Ann Tourism Res 1997;24:283–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Leigh BC, Stall R. Substance use, risky sexual behavior for exposure to HIV: Issues in methodology, interpretation, and prevention. Am Psych 1993;48:1035–1045CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Steele CM, Southwick L. Alcohol, social behavior I: The psychology of drunken excess. J Pers Soc Psychol 1985;48:18–34PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Steele CM, Josephs RA. Alcohol myopia, its prized and dangerous effects. Am Psych 1990;45:921–933CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Parsons JT, Vicioso KJ, Punzalan JC, Halkitis PN, Kutnick A, Velasquez MM. The impact of alcohol use on the sexual scripts of HIV-positive men who have sex with men. J Sex Res 2004;41:160–172PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric G. Benotsch
    • 1
  • Christopher D. Nettles
    • 1
  • Felicia Wong
    • 2
  • Jean Redmann
    • 2
  • Jill Boschini
    • 2
  • Steven D. Pinkerton
    • 3
  • Kathleen Ragsdale
    • 4
  • John J. Mikytuck
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Colorado at Denver & Health Sciences CenterDenverUSA
  2. 2.NO/AIDS Task ForceNew OrleansUSA
  3. 3.Center for AIDS Intervention Research, Medical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA
  4. 4.Medical and Health Research Association of New York City, Inc. (MHRA) and the National Development and Research Institutes (NDRI)New YorkUSA
  5. 5.AIDS Help, IncKey WestUSA

Personalised recommendations