Event Information:

Monday, February 4, 2008
12:30 pm - 1:45 pm

Location: Map

60 Haven Avenue     Room: B2 Conference Room

Event Title:

Research on Heterosexual Anal Sex: A Review of Theoretical and Methodological Issues

Event Type:

Seminar Series


The Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health


Kimberly McBride, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Pediatrics, Adolescent Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine

Invite Limited To:

Open to the Public




Anal intercourse (penile-anal contact) is a culturally taboo and stigmatized behavior in the United States. Since the 1980s, heterosexual anal intercourse has been associated with increased risk for HIV seroconversion and the transmission of STI. However, the extent to which anal intercourse, or other anal sex behaviors (e.g. oral-anal contact, digital penetration), are a causal factor in incidence of transmission or are markers of likelihood of exposure has yet to be established. For heterosexuals, anal sex behaviors may occur irregularly or infrequently thus risk is, in part, dependent on personal, relational and contextual factors proximally associated with behavioral occurrence. Most of the research on heterosexual anal sex to date has focused on penile-anal contact and has assessed STI risk by measuring average levels of the behavior and condom use. These measures have been insensitive to behavioral practices and functional issues associated with condom use (e.g. breakage, slippage) that may affect risk. As a result, we have little information on the phenomenological factors that influence the occurrence of anal sex, including intercourse, in heterosexuals. Further, there has been a lack of focus on understanding the behaviors within anal sex events, such a sequencing, that may have implications for actual STI risk. One approach to these lacunae is to use qualitative methods to understand event level phenomena associated with risk and protective behaviors. While anal sex behaviors are highly stigmatized, methods traditionally considered to provide added privacy, such as self-administered interviews or questionnaires, are not amenable to gathering the types of data necessary to understand event level phenomenon. This talk will review theoretical and methodological issues related to research on heterosexual anal sex, with a specific focus on the use of face-to-face individual interviews as a primary approach of understanding the event phenomena associated with heterosexual anal sex behaviors.