Researchers from the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society have produced the first qualitative study of sex on premises venues and their patrons, which will be used by AIDS councils in the future to more effectively target their material.
Based on anonymous surveys completed by SOPV users, the study entitled An Ordinary Night Out has been able to determine the general age and orientation of SOPV users as well as where they spent most time while inside the venue.
Principal investigator on the study, Jeffrey Grierson says this information will be of use in developing campaign material in the future.
-œThe need for a good and complex study of SOPVs came out of the fact that we were working on a lot of assumptions about sexual practices and I think the prevention stuff was maybe floundering a bit because there wasn’t a good evidence base for what SOPVs actually meant in a wider context, Grierson told Southern Star.
-œWe’ve been working closely with the AIDS Council and are still going through the findings, because we can now look at what areas people spend the most time in when they’re not having sex, so we are now able to recommend, well if you want to put posters up in this sort of area, there are going to be these sorts of people who are spending more time than others. For example, people who are going to have anal sex are more likely to spend more time in this part of the venue where there might be lighting so you might like to provide certain types of resources there.
The study also incorporated a set of separate interviews with members of the general community on their views towards SOPVs which Grierson said highlighted an ongoing level of stigma which is counteractive for safe sex promotion.
-œThere are various perceptions about guys who go to SOPVs and that they’re less connected to the gay community, because there’s an idea that they’re closeted or married, and we’ve found that’s just not the case.
-œIn terms of prevention, that suggests that the message can be spread through the general gay community and not just in the venues themselves. It also highlights that we need a shift in general perception, because a big part of safe sex comes through friends and if people who are using SOPVs don’t feel comfortable speaking to other people in the community that could be a problem.
An Ordinary Night Out has been able to determine the general age and orientation of SOPV users.

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