Context Matters: The Educational Potential Of Gay Bars Revisited Academic Article uri icon


  • Gay bars have been frequently identified as suitable environments in which to conduct HIV prevention activities among homosexually active men. In theory, they provide easy access to a relatively diverse group of men. However, gay bars are environments in which the primary purpose is a social one. Gay men use them to take time out, to socialize, and, on occasions, to find new sexual partners. They are also settings in which social reputations often have to be managed. This study examined the HIV/AIDS educational potential of four gay bars in London, Britain. Semistructured observations and interviews took place in four contrasting bars with a focus on men's perceptions of HIV/AIDS-related health promotion activities including condom promotion, the use of posters and small media, and understandings of safer sex. Respondents were ambivalent about AIDS-related health education activities being undertaken. The implications of such responses for the development of HIV primary prevention activities in such settings are discussed.

publication date

  • August 2003