214664 Self-perceived HIV risk in HIV-negative men who have sex with men (MSM) and who use the Internet to find partners for unprotected sex

Monday, November 8, 2010

David Tilley, MS , Department of Community and Family Health, University of South Florida College of Public Health, Tampa, FL
Hugh Klein, PhD , Prevention Sciences Research Center / Center for the Study and Prevention of Drug Use, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
BACKGROUND: HIV-negative MSM, particularly those who bareback, are at high risk for acquiring HIV. This study examines HIV risk perceptions among HIV-negative MSM using the Internet to find partners for unsafe sex. METHODS: In 2008 and 2009, 332 American MSM were sampled randomly from 16 websites. All used the Internet to search for unprotected sex partners. Interviews were conducted by telephone and lasted 1-2 hours. RESULTS: Half of the participants said that they had "zero chance" (8%) or "only a slight chance" (43%) of seroconverting. Men's estimations of their chances of becoming HIV-positive did not correspond with (1) the amount of unprotected sex they had, (2) percentage of sex acts that entailed internal ejaculation, (3) desired HIV serostatus of their sex partners, or (4) number of recent sex partners they reported. Multivariate analysis revealed four factors associated with a greater perception of HIV acquisition risk: (1) identifying as a sexual "bottom," (2) recently having sex while under the influence of illegal drugs, (3) more frequent use of bareback-focused websites to find partners, and (4) younger age. CONCLUSIONS: Although all of this study's participants were at great risk for acquiring HIV due to their efforts to meet men online for unprotected sex, most considered their chances of becoming HIV-positive to be minimal. This risk perception needs to be altered to be more realistic. Previous studies have shown that an increased perception of vulnerability to HIV often leads to a reduction in risky practices.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify how Internet-using HIV-negative MSM perceive their risks for acquiring HIV. 2. Describe how HIV-negative men's risk perceptions correspond to their actual involvement in HIV risk practices. 3. Identify the factors associated with having a greater perception of personal risk for acquiring HIV.

Keywords: HIV Risk Behavior, Gay Men

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am a PhD student at the University of South Florida, College of Public Health and am providing research support to the study this presentation comes from.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.