Monday, March 14, 2016

The Meaning of 'Regular Partner' in HIV Research among Gay and Bisexual Men: Implications of an Australian Cross-Sectional Survey

Estimates of the proportion of HIV infections coming from within regular sexual relationships among gay and bisexual men (GBM) vary widely. Research surveys use various partner type categories, but there is little understanding of how men classify their partners. We conducted an online cross-sectional survey of Australian GBM exploring sexual relationships, including 2057 men reporting on 2566 regular partnerships. 

Just over half of the partnerships were considered 'relationships', while the remainder were non-romantic 'fuckbuddy'-style arrangements. In multivariable analysis, factors associated with considering the partnership a 'relationship' were: using a 'romantic' descriptor, partnership length, monogamous agreements, any condomless anal sex with each other, love, and commitment. The category of 'regular partner' can mask diverse partnership types, which have different meanings to GBM, associated behaviours, and HIV risks. 

Certain HIV prevention techniques may be more suited to particular types of partnerships. 'Fuckbuddy' arrangements need to be more explicitly acknowledged in HIV prevention.

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  • 1Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia.
  • 2University of New England, Armidale, Australia.
  • 3Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, England, UK.
  • 4Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia.
  • 5Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. 
  •  2016 Mar 12.

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