Although it is generally accepted that one of the most valuable methods of curtailing the spread of HIV and AIDS is to persuade people to change their behavior, and although information- based intervention programs have proven to be useful, there remains a substantial proportion of individuals who fail to respond to such programs. """"""""Sexual compulsivity"""""""" or """"""""sexual compulsive behavior"""""""" are terms that refer to the experience of insistent and recurring sexual """"""""urges"""""""" which are associated with sexual behaviors that-while recognized as being potentially problematic or detrimental to one's health and functioning-are experienced as """"""""uncontrollable"""""""". Thus, this concept combines several elements that may be of relevance to our understanding of """"""""intervention resistant"""""""" or more persistent forms of sexual risk behavior. Conditioning processes have been clearly implicated in the etiology and maintenance of other forms of compulsive behavior (e.g., substance abuse). Also, conditioning processes can contribute to the development of more """"""""automatic"""""""" behavioral tendencies that may bias people towards risky behavior despite their desire to resist and despite their recognition of negative consequences. Moreover, alcohol consumption, a common trigger for sexual compulsion, also seems to contribute to more automatic behavioral tendencies. To date, research on the role of learning processes (e.g., conditioning) in sexual compulsivity, and their relevance to sexual risk behavior, is lacking. Furthermore, no studies have as yet examined the interaction between sexual compulsivity and alcohol use, and their impact on self-regulation, in sexual risk taking. The proposed research will test the role of conditioning processes in compulsive sexual behavior and sexual risk taking and examine to what degree alcohol may influence their expression and responsiveness to self-regulation. Two studies employing questionnaires as well as a variety of laboratory manipulations and measures will be conducted. The long-term goal of the research is to contribute to the development of more targeted intervention programs for sexual compulsion and risk taking that will help reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Public Health Relevance

Behavioral change remains the most valuable method of curtailing the spread of HIV and AIDS, and prevention and intervention programs promoting behavioral change have proven to be useful. Yet there remain a substantial proportion of individuals, including those who can be labeled """"""""sexually compulsive"""""""", who fail to respond to HIV/AIDS intervention efforts. This project is the first to examine the links among learning processes (conditioning), alcohol use, and sexual risk-taking in sexually compulsive men who have sex with men (MSM), with the aim of informing the development of more effective intervention programs to help reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS in this population.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Study Section
Behavioral and Social Consequences of HIV/AIDS Study Section (BSCH)
Program Officer
Bryant, Kendall
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Knox College
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Janssen, Erick; Hoffmann, Heather Lynn; Goodrich, David et al. (2016) The Effects of Alcohol on Self-Regulation of Sexual Arousal in Sexually Compulsive Men Who Have Sex with Men. Sex Addict Compulsivity 23:313-323