Recreational drugs and sexual behavior in the Chicago MACS/CCS cohort of homosexually active men

David G. Ostrow, Eugenio D. Beltran, Jill G Joseph, Wayne Difranceisco, Jerry Wesch, Joan S. Chmiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Since initial reports emerged of an association between recreational drug use and high-risk sexual behaviors in gay men, there has been interest in studying this relationship for its relevance to behavioral interventions. Reported here are the longitudinal patterns of alcohol and recreational drug use in the Chicago Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS)/Coping and Change Study (CCS) of gay men. A pattern of decreasing drug use over 6 years was observed that paralleled a decline in high-risk sexual behavior (i.e., unprotected anal intercourse). In contrast, alcohol consumption tended to be more stable over time, and to show no relationship to sexual behavior change. Men who combined volatile nitrite (popper) use with other recreational drugs were at highest risk both behaviorally and in terms of human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV) seroconversion throughout the study. Popper use also was associated independently with lapse from safer sexual behaviors (failure to use a condom during receptive anal sex). Use of other recreational substances showed no relationship to sexual behavior change patterns, and stopping popper use was unrelated to improvement in safer sexual behavior. When popper use and lapse from safer sex were reanalyzed, controlling for primary relationship status, popper use was associated with failure to use condoms during receptive anal sex among nonmonogamous men only. These findings suggest an association between popper use and high-risk sexual behavior among members of the Chicago MACS/CCS cohort that has relevance to HIV prevention intervention efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-325
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Neuroscience(all)


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