• Journal Article

Prevalence and patterns of same-gender sexual contact among men


Fay, R. E., Turner, C., Klassen, A. D., & Gagnon, J. H. (1989). Prevalence and patterns of same-gender sexual contact among men. Science, 243(4889), 338-348. DOI: 10.1126/science.2911744


The prevalence and patterns of same-gender sexual contact among men are key components of models of the spread of HIV infection and AIDS in the U.S. population. Previous estimates by Kinsey et al. from data collected between 1938 and 1948 have been widely criticized for inadequacies of sample design. New lower-bound estimates of prevalence developed from data from a national sample survey conducted in 1970 indicate that minimums of 20.3 percent of adult men in the United States in 1970 had sexual contact to orgasm with another man at some time in life; 6.7 percent had such contact after age 19; and between 1.6 and 2.0 percent had such contact within the previous year. Although these estimates incorporate adjustments for missing data, the likelihood of underreporting suggests that these estimates might be lower bounds on the prevalence of same-gender sex among men. Two sets of alternative estimates are derived to assess the sensitivity of these estimates to the assumptions made in imputing values to missing data. Detailed estimates are presented by frequency of contact, age, education, and marital status; and supporting estimates are derived from a 1988 national survey. Data from both the 1970 and 1988 surveys indicate that never-married men are more likely than other men to have had same-gender sexual contacts within the last year. The 1970 survey also indicates, however, that approximately half the men estimated to have such contacts are found among the more numerous population of currently or previously married men.