That's not how this works, that's not how any of this works! Gay and bi men believe men they find ‘physically attractive’ are less likely to be HIV positive or have other STIs. Because of this, they are also less likely to use condoms when having sex with them according to the conclusion of a study undertaken by researchers at the University of Maryland in the US. The results appeared in the Journal of Sex Research in March.
The Study concluded:
Men who have sex with men (MSM) are disproportionately impacted by sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but many engage in condomless sex. One factor contributing to condomless sex may be an assumption of low risk of STIs from physically attractive partners. The present study tested the effect of partner attractiveness on perceived STI risk and condom use intentions and examined two mechanisms believed to underlie this effect: implicit personality theory and motivated reasoning. Participants were 197 MSM who viewed photos of attractive and unattractive men and responded to items assessing perceptions of the men’s positive traits and STI risk, as well as motivation to have sex with the men and condom use intentions. Sexual arousal was manipulated. Attractiveness reduced perceived STI risk and condom use intentions by increasing both positive perceptions of and motivation to have sex with the person. Findings were not influenced by arousal.
The study involved 197 men who have sex with men in the United States. None were in a monogamous relationship and all used apps to meet other men.
It showed them video clips of other guys in both non-sexual and sexual scenarios.
Each man was shown clips of attractive men and clips of less-attractive men. The attractiveness of the men depicted was ranked in advance. Researchers used 22 other gay and bi men not included in the study to do the ranking.
The study asked participants whether they thought the men were attractive, with questions such as, ‘Overall, how sexually desirable is the person in the photo?’
They were separately asked if they were aroused by the men they saw. Questions included: ‘How likely is it that you would have a one-night stand with this person?’.
Participants were then asked, on a scale of one to seven, whether they thought the men had ‘positive partner traits’ (‘trustworthy, responsible, healthy,’ etc).
The study then asked directly about the perceived risk sex with that person might pose. Questions included: ‘How likely do you think it is that you would get HIV—the virus that causes AIDS—from this person?’ and whether they were likely to use a condom with that person.
On average, when men were rated as more physically attractive, they were also rated as being less likely to have HIV or another STI. This was largely irrespective of whether participants were feeling sexually aroused when they were making their ratings.
When men were rated as being less likely to have HIV or another STI, participants were less likely to intend to use condoms were they to have sex with those men
Evidence supported the role of two thought processes to explain why physically attractive men are seen as less likely to have HIV or another STI.
The authors speculate the thought processes at play include the ‘halo effect’: In short, if someone possesses one positive trait (such as attractiveness), this leads others to believe they have other positive traits, such as perfect health.
Also, if you find someone physically attractive, there is more chance you will want to have sex with them. Therefore, you may potentially remove or overlook psychological barriers that might deter you from this goal. This includes considering whether someone has an STI or not.
The study says other factors could have also impacted condom use, such as whether someone was using PrEP.