Characterizing Experiences of Conversion Therapy Among Middle-Aged and Older Men Who Have Sex with Men from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS)

Steven P. Meanley, Ron D. Stall, Omar Dakwar, James E. Egan, Mackey R. Friedman, Sabina A. Haberlen, Chukwuemeka Okafor, Linda A. Teplin, Michael W. Plankey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Conversion therapies are practices that attempt to change an individuals’ same-sex attractions through psychotherapeutic and aversive therapeutic techniques. Conversion therapies were developed based on homophobic beliefs that same-sex attractions are a mental illness. We sought to describe the prevalence and characteristics of conversion therapy experienced among middle-aged and older men who have sex with men in the USA. Given associations of homophobic stigma and HIV risk, we hypothesized that HIV-positive men would report higher odds of conversion therapy compared to HIV-negative men. We analyzed data from 1237 middle-aged and older men who have sex with men (MSM) enrolled in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study. Among participants, 17.7% reported lifetime conversion therapy, of which the average start of therapy age was 22.67 (sd = 10.56) years, 25.8% reported therapy durations of 6+ months, 37.7% reported session frequencies 1+ session per week, and 35.9% indicated that undergoing therapy was either a little or not at all their decision. We observed no statistically significant association between reporting lifetime conversion therapy and HIV status. Future efforts should continue to assess the magnitude of harm conversion therapies imposed on MSM’s health across the life course as well as test potential, indirect associations that may link these practices to HIV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-342
Number of pages9
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Conversion therapy
  • Gay and bisexual men
  • HIV
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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