60.4 Sleeping and texting with my phone: Implications for mental health and sexual health promotion among black and Latino young men who have sex with men

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 11:45 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Matt MUTCHLER , Education, AIDS Project Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Sheba GEORGE , Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, CA
Bryce MCDAVITT , AIDS Project Los Angeles
Robert PHILLIPS , University of Manitoba, Canada
Wallis ADAMS , Northeastern University
Young adults report frequent use of texting to communicate with their friends; yet, relatively little research has explored the use of text messaging as a tool for sexual communication, particularly among Black and Latino young men who have sex with men (YMSM). It is important to understand how the development of new technologies such as text messaging affects mental and sexual health especially since Black and Latino YMSM are at the forefront of the U.S. HIV epidemic, and sexual communication regarding condom use is related to sexual risk behaviors among YMSM.  Therefore, as part of an ongoing project exploring what we call “Gay-Boy Talk” between YMSM and their friends, we examined how Black and Latino YMSM use texting to communicate about sexual health topics such as sex, HIV, relationships, and social support.   We report on the results of 10 semi-structured focus groups lasting approximately 2 hours each with 50 Black and Latino YMSM between the ages of 18-24.  We investigated the use and acceptability of text messaging for sexual communication among the YMSM. Using Nvivo software and a grounded theory method of analysis, we found that Black and Latino YMSM view such communication as personal extensions of their selves, carefully monitoring and managing the boundaries around who, what, when, and how they send and receive messages, especially those pertaining to sexual health topics.  We also identified four main themes around their texting behaviors, texting preferences, perceptions of advantages and disadvantages of texting, and what they consider as texting etiquette as well as their suggestions on how to craft text messages for health promotion.  We consider implications of these findings for further research on mental health and specifically for the development of texting-based sexual health promotion interventions, particularly in conjunction with other existing HIV prevention interventions.