Relationship Characteristics and HIV Transmission Risk in Same-Sex Male Couples in HIV Serodiscordant Relationships.

Published: November 16, 2013


Unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) remains a main risk factor for HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) and this is of particular concern for partners of HIV serodiscordant status. However, HIV transmission risk has been demonstrated to vary by the sexual position adopted among partners. Guided by interdependence theory, this study examined how relational factors were differentially associated with risk taking (HIV-positive/insertive and HIV-negative/receptive) and strategic positioning (HIV-positive/receptive and HIV-negative/insertive) UAI within serodiscordant same-sex male couples. HIV-positive men and their HIV-negative partners (n couples = 91; n individuals = 182) simultaneously but independently completed computerized questionnaires and HIV-positive men had blood drawn for viral load. A minority of couples (30 %) engaged in risk taking and/or strategic positioning unprotected anal sex. Results of multinomial logistic regression indicated that HIV-negative partners’ levels of relationship commitment were positively associated with the odds of engaging in strategic positioning sexual behaviors. For HIV-negative partners, reports of relationship intimacy, and sexual satisfaction were negatively associated with odds of reporting risk taking behavior. In contrast, HIV-positive partners’ reported sexual satisfaction was positively associated with odds of engaging in risk taking behavior. Findings suggested that aspects of relational quality may be differentially associated with sexual decision making for same-sex male couples in serodiscordant relationships. Study findings lend support for the incorporation of discussions of HIV risk reduction strategies, enhancing communication between partners, and support for general relationship functioning in HIV care
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