Sigma Research

Proximity to HIV and the management of sexual risk among negative and untested gay men

Duration: January 2005 - June 2006

Although HIV has a major impact on all homosexually active men, that population varies enormously in its proximity to, and experience of HIV. Just over half of the men we surveyed in the Gay Men’s Sex Survey 2003 said they did not personally know anyone with diagnosed HIV.

This qualitative study investigated the experiences of gay men and bisexual men who currently believed themselves to be HIV negative. It explored how their social and sexual relationships (proximity) to men with HIV influenced their perception of HIV risk and the sex they had. The relationship between proximity to HIV and men’s expectations of disclosure of positive HIV status was also examined.

We recruited 40 men to take part in a one-off face-to-face interview. The basic criteria for inclusion in the study was that men had sex with 5 or more male partners in the last year and believed themselves to be HIV negative (whether or not they had actually had a negative HIV test). Men were recruited from London and Birmingham. Interviews were anonymous and confidential and lasted for 60-90 minutes. Men were recruited into two groups: those who knew someone with HIV and those who did not. The interviews were audio-tape recorded, transcribed and analysed. Interviewees were paid £20 for their time and expenses.

The study was undertaken as part of the Basic Research strand of our CHAPS contract with Terrence Higgins Trust. The study informed a subsequent CHAPS intervention.

The final report was called Morality, responsibility and risk: gay men and proximity to HIV.

Findings were also written up in a Journal article called Morality, responsibility and risk: negative gay men’s perceived proximity to HIV (AIDS Care 2008).

Key contact: Catherine Dodds

Tagged under: All gay & bisexual men