Age of Sexual Debut among Young Gay-identified Sexual Minority Men: The P18 Cohort Study

Perry N. Halkitis, Caleb LoSchiavo, Richard J. Martino, Blas Martin De La Cruz, Christopher B. Stults, Kristen D. Krause

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Age of sexual debut is a critical health indicator for young sexual minority men (YSMM), associated with an increased likelihood of HIV acquisition, use of alcohol, tobacco, and other substances, and psychological distress. This study examined the age of same-sex sexual debut for five sexual behaviors in a sample of racially/ethnically and socioeconomically diverse gay-identified YSMM in New York City. The mean age of sexual debut of any behavior was 14.5 years old and 19% of the sample reported sexual debut prior to age 13. Overall, mutual masturbation occurred at the youngest mean age, followed by performed oral, received oral, receptive anal, and insertive anal intercourse. There were significant differences by race/ethnicity and perceived familial socioeconomic status (SES), such that Black and Hispanic/Latino men had earlier ages of debut for performed oral and receptive and insertive anal sex, while upper SES men had later ages of debut for receptive and insertive anal intercourse. These findings are relevant to trends in HIV incidence in the U.S., which are highest among Black and Hispanic/Latino YSMM and may be associated with earlier age of sexual debut. These findings also underscore a need for comprehensive and inclusive sex education at younger ages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Sex Research
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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