UNITED STATES: “Sexual Agreements in the Partnerships of Internet-Using Men Who Have Sex with Men”

UNITED
STATES:   ”Sexual Agreements in the Partnerships of
Internet-Using Men Who Have Sex with Men”

AIDS Care Vol. 24; No.
10: P. 1255-1263    (10..12):: Katherine Gass; and others

 

Among men who have sex with men (MSM), the majority of HIV transmission results
from sex with a main partner, recent studies have shown. The authors noted that
one factor likely to influence the risk of transmission is the type of
agreements the couple has regarding sexual behavior both within the
relationship and outside it.

In the current study, Facebook banner ads were used to recruit 732 MSM who use
the Internet. The men completed an online questionnaire regarding demographic
characteristics of the respondent, his main partner, their sexual behavior,
whether they had a sexual agreement, “and the strength of investment in that
agreement.”

The association between sexual agreements (categorized as open, closed or none)
and the predictive variables was assessed using the Pearson chi-square test.
The sexual agreement investment scale (a composite score of 0 to 52) was used
to assess respondents’ investment in their sexual agreement.

Most respondents (91 percent) reported having some form of sexual agreement in
place with their main partner. The presence and type of this agreement was
strongly associated with many of the characteristics of the individual and the
couple, including: the HIV status of the respondent; the length of time with
the main partner; having unprotected anal intercourse with a man other than the
main partner; and happiness in the relationship. The results indicated that
increases in the strength of the respondents’ investment in the sexual
agreement were associated with newness of the relationship; happiness in the
relationship; having a closed relationship; and decreases in risky sexual
behavior.

“This study offers further evidence of the important role that sexual
agreements play in male couples,” the authors concluded. “The overwhelming
prevalence of sexual agreements and their association with relationship
happiness and risky sexual behaviors has important implications for future HIV
prevention and control strategies, including the implementation of couples
voluntary counseling and testing.”