HIV medication beliefs and high risk sexual behaviour in two cohorts of men who have sex with men, 2005-2007

Published: August 1, 2008

HIV medication beliefs and high risk sexual behaviour in two cohorts of men who have sex with men, 2005-2007

Background: This study measured differences in sexual risk behavior, HIV medication beliefs, and the relationship between sexual risk behaviour and HIV medication beliefs among HIV+ and HIV-negative men who have sex with men (MSM) in 2005 versus 2007.

Methods: A total of 1015 MSM responded to surveys on sexual risk behaviour and HIV medication beliefs in Toronto, Canada in 2005 (n=541) and 2007 (n=474). Sexual risk behaviour was defined as unprotected anal intercourse with serodiscordant or unknown HIV status partners.

Results: Men in 2005 and 2007 were similar in terms of proportion engaging in sexual risk behaviour and in strength of HIV medication beliefs. HIV medication beliefs were associated with sexual risk behaviour among both HIV-positive (HIV+) and HIV-negative (HIV-) men in 2005, but only among HIV+ men in 2007. Among HIV+ men, use of HIV medications, having an undetectable viral load, and having a CD4 count <500 were all associated with being less likely to engage in sexual risk behaviour in 2005 but not in 2007. HIV+ men were more likely than HIV- men to have engaged in high risk sexual behaviour.

Conclusions: Results therefore suggest that although the prevalence of sexual risk behaviours and HIV medication beliefs is stable from 2005 to 2007, HIV medication beliefs may no longer have a significant impact upon the sexual risk behaviour of HIV- MSM and a more limited impact upon the sexual risk behaviour of HIV+ MSM. Data from these 2 cohorts suggest prevention messages regarding how HIV medications do not prevent HIV transmission may have been assimilated to some extent among MSM. However, continued education for HIV+ MSM that HIV medications cannot completely eliminate HIV transmission is still needed.

-Full abstract available at link below-

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