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Perceived intentional transmission of HIV infection, sustained viral suppression and psychosocial outcomes among men who have sex with men living with HIV: a cross-sectional assessment

Abstract

Objective HIV continues to be a global and national public health challenge, and men who have sex with men (MSM) are disproportionately affected in the USA. Transmission of HIV is intentional if the person living with HIV knows about his/her serostatus, acts with the intention to and actually transmits HIV. Research on intentional transmission of HIV infections is lacking, and the relationships between perceived intentional transmission, viral suppression and psychosocial outcomes have not been assessed. The objective of this study was to investigate the association between perceived intentional transmission of HIV, sustained viral suppression and psychosocial outcomes.

Methods Data were obtained from 338 MSM living with HIV who participated in a disclosure intervention study. Logistic and linear regression models were used to assess the associations between perceived intentional transmission and viral suppression, condomless anal intercourse in the past 30 days, being at risk for clinical depression, substance use, self-efficacies for condom use, HIV disclosure and negotiation of safer sex practices, and sexual compulsivity.

Results 44% of the study population reported perceiving intentional HIV transmission. After adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, men who thought that they were infected intentionally had 69% higher odds (adjusted OR: 1.69; 95% CI 1.01 to 2.83) of being at risk for clinical depression, and on average, scored approximately 3 points and 4 points higher on depressive symptoms and sexual compulsivity, respectively (adjusted β: 3.29; 95% CI 0.42 to 6.15; adjusted β: 3.74; 95% CI 1.32 to 6.17) compared with men who did not think that they were intentionally infected. After adjusting for confounders, there was no statistically significant association between perceived intentional transmission and viral suppression.

Conclusions Intervention programmes for MSM living with HIV who thought they were infected intentionally are warranted and should aim to attenuate depressive symptoms and sexual compulsivity.

  • behavioural science
  • gay men
  • HIV
  • modes of transmission
  • sexual health

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