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HIV status and sexual behaviour among gay men in Ottawa: considerations for public health

19 Sep 2014

Objectives

HIV prevention efforts, particularly among men who have sex with men (MSM), have not achieved maximum effectiveness. A survey of MSM in Ottawa, Canada was completed to ascertain whether there were differences in how the perceived HIV status of participants and their partners influenced sexual practices.

Methods

Self-directed surveys were administered to a convenience sample of 721 MSM in Ottawa, Canada from November 2011 through May 2012. Data collection occurred at 14 sites. The survey identified whether participants identified as HIV positive, negative or unsure of their HIV status.

Results

The findings indicated variation between HIV-negative MSM and those who are unsure of their HIV status. Men who were unsure of their HIV status were less likely to report that they asked sexual partners or have had their partners ask about HIV status.

Conclusions

The results of this study indicate that some MSM may base decisions about HIV prevention on discussion about HIV status with their partners, rather than condom use. These practices may increase, rather than decrease, HIV transmission. Survey findings and extant literature demonstrate a need to inform MSM about the limitations of serosorting as a prevention strategy, and to provide facilitated access to sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment to further reduce onward HIV transmission.

Date: 
19 September 2014

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open