Sexual Agreements and Perception of HIV Prevalence Among an Online Sample of Partnered Men Who Have Sex with Men

Rob Stephenson, Darcy White, Jason W. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Stemming from recent evidence that between one- and two-thirds of new HIV transmissions among men who have sex with men (MSM) occur within main partnerships, research and programmatic efforts have begun to recognize the role of the male–male dyad in shaping HIV risk. Central to this new focus has been studies detailing the presence of sexual agreements, which provide guidelines governing permissions around sex with partners outside of the relationship. Using a Facebook-recruited sample of US-partnered MSM (n = 454), this study examines the associations between reporting of sexual agreements and perceptions of HIV prevalence among male sex partners, friends, and local and national MSM populations. Men who perceived that 10–20 % (OR 6.18, 95 % CI 1.28–29.77) and >20 % of their male sex partners were HIV positive (OR 2.68, 95 % CI 1.02–7.08) had significantly higher odds of reporting having an open agreement with their current main partner than men who perceived that less than 10 % of their male sex partners were HIV positive. Partnered men with open sexual agreements may have more sexual partners than those who report monogamy, possibly leading to heightened perceptions of HIV risk, which may result in reporting of perceptions of greater local HIV prevalence. Additionally, men who have made agreements with their partners may have done so due to concerns about HIV risks, and may also be more aware of increased risks of HIV infection, or may have greater knowledge of HIV prevalence through discussions of serostatus with sex partners. Attention is needed to develop prevention efforts, such as toolkits and resources that enable men to form sexual agreements that are based on comprehensive knowledge of the potential risks for acquisition of HIV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1813-1819
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 7 2015


  • HIV risk perception
  • Perceived HIV prevalence
  • Same-sex male couples
  • Sexual agreements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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