U leads survey on gay health

By Jeff Dixon, Asst. News Editor

After years of narrow studies, a U professor is leading a survey to include more gay and bisexual men’s health issues than ever.

Beginning June 6, the U psychology department will help conduct a survey of adult men who have had same-sex intercourse within the past year, in collaboration with community groups and departments of health, in order to assess risks to their health.

The study is being conducted in light of a 16 percent increase in HIV infections in Utah in 2008, two-thirds of which were among men who had sex with other men, said David Huebner, a professor of psychology.

The anonymous survey will be available at seven booths at Washington Square in downtown Salt Lake City during the Utah Pride Festival. There will also be outreach workers circulating through the crowd looking for potential respondents.

“We’re hoping to get up to 1,000 men,” said Huebner, the lead investigator for the study. Similar surveys used to be conducted solely around gay bars or with men who were openly gay, Huebner said. He said he hopes the anonymous nature of this survey will provide a wider range of results.

“We don’t know what levels of risk behavior look like here,” Huebner said in a statement. “No one has ever studied that among gay men in Utah.”

The survey, which includes about 100 questions and takes about 20 minutes to complete, is known as GUS. It stands for “Gay and bisexual Utah Survey for men.” Advertisements for the survey will feature a fictitious gay character named Gus.

The survey will be available online starting June 6 at www.psych.utah.edu/gus and distribution will continue throughout the summer, according to a U press release.

The survey will include questions regarding sexual behavior, tobacco smoking and alcohol and drug use. Other questions will ask participants about their knowledge of available services such as free HIV testing, HIV awareness and patient support, as well as health services. The survey also will ask gay and bisexual men where they spend their time8212;bars, community organizations, university groups, coffee shops.

Among the psychology department’s community partners are the Utah AIDS Foundation, Utah Pride and Equality Utah.

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