WEDNESDAY, Oct. 15, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Young gay and bisexual males are less likely to engage in riskier sex if their families are supportive of the way they live, a small new study reveals.
However, while the study found an association between family support and safer sex practices, such as using condoms, it did not prove a cause-and-effect link.
Still, "youth had limited engagement in unsafe sex when the families were able to have open, reciprocal discussions that were low in disagreement. Close family connections seemed to provide a context for safety," study author Michael LaSala, an associate professor and licensed clinical social worker at Rutgers University School of Social Work, said in a university news release.
The study is based on interviews with 38 gay and bisexual males aged 14 to 21 in several East Coast metropolitan areas. The researchers also interviewed parents and other caretakers of the participants.
Closeness between parents and kids seemed to be an important factor in whether the boys and men engaged in riskier sexual behaviors, such as not wearing condoms. Some study participants said their decisions about safer sex were influenced by discussions with parents about things like the use of condoms.
"We can't discount the role of the family in protecting these young adults," LaSala said. "One son said that it is his mom's love that keeps him grounded. A family's acceptance and open dialogue helps to encourage the young adult to take care of himself. So, for many families, the ties that bind could be a powerful motivator to stay safe."
The study was published online recently in the Journal of Marital & Family Therapy.
The AARP has more about supporting a gay child.