Date of Conferral





Public Health


Peter B. Anderson


Many men who have sex with men (MSM) engage in alcohol and drug use. Drug use, particularly methamphetamines, amyl nitrates (poppers), and drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction among MSM may also contribute to risks such as unprotected sex, which leads to the possibility of contracting syphilis, Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). In the Metro Atlanta Area (Fulton and Dekalb Counties), primary and secondary syphilis rates among MSM are still rising and rank highest among the other counties in the area. Guided by the risk and protective factor theory, the purpose of this study was to determine if club drug use was a contributing factor in high-risk sexual behavior among MSM with syphilis. Data were collected from the State Electronic Notifiable Disease Surveillance System with permission from the State of Georgia's Division of Public Health's STD division and was tested by using hierarchical regression analyses. The findings were inconsistent with the reported literature; there was no association between drug use and risky sexual behavior in this sample of MSM infected with syphilis. However, there was an association between prior incarceration being predictive of engaging in sex with anonymous partners and having sex while high. Implications for positive social change include evidence for the need for public health interventions that target incarcerated MSM because they exhibit the highest-risk sexual behavior due to their time served in the correctional system. Further exploration of this topic could be used to develop health information and policies to meet the needs of those affected by high-risk sexual behavior while incarcerated and upon release, ultimately reducing the spread of HIV.