Changes in the sexual behaviour of recently HIV-diagnosed men following diagnosis

Stream: Living with HIV
Date: Thursday, 31 March 2016
Time: 11.15 am – 1.00 pm

Abstract

Objective: To examine changes in sexual behaviour following recent HIV diagnosis among gay and bisexual men (GBM).

Method: The HIV Seroconversion Study was a national, online study of GBM recently diagnosed with HIV. 213 men provided information about their sex with casual partners in the four weeks before and after their HIV diagnosis.

Results: Mean age was 32.8 years. In the four weeks prior to diagnosis 68.8% reported having engaged in sex with casual partners. This included 40.9% who reported condomless anal intercourse (CLAI): 23.3% insertive and 36.3% receptive. In the four weeks after diagnosis 37.6% reported having engaged in sex with casual partners. This included 17.8% who reported CLAI: 11.7% insertive and 15.5% receptive.

Conclusion: In the immediate period following HIV diagnosis, many GBM change their sexual behaviour, and very few report engaging in CLAI, despite having commonly done so prior to diagnosis. Only one in eight report engaging in insertive CLAI, which would represent the highest risk for onward transmission. Receiving an early diagnosis would appear to be one of the most effective methods of reducing the likelihood that men with recent HIV infection engage in behaviours that might infect others. Concerns about the possibility of onward transmission between diagnosis and commencing treatment apply to only a minority of recently diagnosed men. Perhaps supporting these particular men with targeted counseling and information about onward transmission at this time may be an effective supplement to current health promotion and stigma reduction strategies.

Authors

Ian Down (Presenter), The Kirby Institute
Ian Down is an Associate Lecturer at the Kirby Institute, UNSW, and the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University. His fields of research include gay men's understandings of risk of HIV, and the ways in which they negotiate sexual risk. Ian works primarily on the HIV Seroconversion Study - a study exploring factors associated with HIV transmission in Australia, and the experiences of people who have recently been diagnosed HIV-positive - which also forms the basis on his PhD, which he is about to complete.

Garrett Prestage, The Kirby Institute; Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society

Graham Brown, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society

Jeanne Ellard, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society

Kathy Triffitt, The Kirby Institute