XVIII International AIDS Conference


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HIV testing among gay male couples in the presence of sexual exposure to HIV

D. Chakravarty1,2, T.B. Neilands2, L.A. Darbes2, C. Leer1, C.C. Hoff1

1San Francisco State University, Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, San Francisco, United States, 2University of California at San Francisco, Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, San Francisco, United States

Background: Widespread HIV counseling and testing have been shown to be effective in decreasing sexual risk. Many studies report that HIV-negative gay men test at high rates, but surveillance data do not distinguish between testing rates among men in committed relationships and single men. In light of recent reports of HIV risk factors unique to male couples, we examined testing rates in conjunction with sexual risk behavior in this population.
Methods: Analyses were conducted on 752 HIV-negative men in a sample of gay male couples recruited from the San Francisco Bay area. Sexual risk was defined as unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) in the previous three months with either a HIV-positive primary partner (UAIPP) or a non-primary partner of positive or unknown serostatus (UAIOUT). Cross tabulations were generated for time since last HIV test and sexual risk behavior.
Results: The ethnically diverse sample had median age of 39 years and median relationship length of 4 years. Overall, 154 men (20%) last tested within the previous three months and 112 (15%) in the previous three to six months. Of the 79 men (11%) who reported UAIOUT in the previous three months, 21 (27%) got tested during that period and 18 (23%) last tested between three and six months earlier. Among the 132 men with a HIV-positive primary partner, 62 (47%) reported UAIPP of whom 22 (35%) last tested in the previous three months and 14 (23%) tested between three and six months earlier.
Conclusions: A majority of HIV-negative men in relationships with clear sexual risk exposures delay HIV testing or don´t get tested at all. The reasons for this are not immediately apparent, but a clearer understanding will make HIV counseling and testing more effective among gay couples. Future research in this population should explore risk perceptions, barriers and facilitators for testing.

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