Examining the correspondence between relationship identity and actual sexual risk behavior among HIV-positive men who have sex with men

Aaron J. Blashill, Johannes M. Wilson, Conall M. O'Cleirigh, Kenneth H. Mayer, Steven A. Safren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Sexual behavior of men who have sex with men (MSM), within and outside of one's primary relationship, may contribute to increased risk of HIV transmission among those living with HIV. The current study sought to understand how HIV-infected MSM report their relationship status and the degree to which this corresponds with their sexual behavior. Further, we examined rates and psychosocial associations with sexual HIV transmission risk behavior (TRB) across relationship categories. In a sample of 503 HIV-infected MSM in HIV care, 200 (39.8 %) reported having a primary partner. Of these, 115 reported that their relationship was open and 85 reported that it was monogamous. Of the 85 who reported a monogamous relationship, 23 (27 %) reported more than one sexual partner in the prior 3 months, 53 (62 %) reported only one partner, and nine did not report on the number of partners in the past 3 months. Hence, there were three categories of relationships: (1) "monogamous with one sexual partner," (2) "monogamous with more than one sexual partner," and (3) "open relationship." The "monogamous with more than one sexual partner" group reported higher TRB and crystal methamphetamine use compared to the "monogamous with one sexual partner" group and different patterns of relationships with TRB emerged across the three groups. Couples-based HIV prevention interventions for MSM may be enhanced by considering that there may be different definitions of monogamy among MSM, and that the context of relationship status may require tailoring interventions to meet the needs of specific subgroups of MSM couples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-137
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes



  • Couples
  • MSM
  • Monogamy
  • Sexual orientation
  • Sexual risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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