It Only Takes Getting HIV To Make Gay Guys Quit Having Risky Sex And Put Down the Crack Pipe. For A Hot Minute

If I told you I had a secret way to get gay guys to stop having unprotected sex, and put down the meth long enough to realize the half dozen guys screwing them weren’t wearing condoms, would you be thrilled? How about if I told you the super secret way is to get them infected with HIV?

In the short term, learning you’re HIV-positive is enough to get you to cut down on the number of guys you’re having sex with, new findings published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes claim. Looking at 193 men recently infected with HIV, researchers learned:

There was a reduction in the number of reported sex partners, and in the first few months after diagnosis there was a reduction in unprotected sex with HIV-negative partners or men of unknown HIV status. Rates of reported methamphetamine use fell, but still remained high. There was no evidence that individuals were using viral load to guide their decisions about unprotected sex.

“Our findings demonstrate how sexual behaviours, partnership status, substance abuse and partner choices of MSM [men who have sex with men] with recent HIV infection changed during the first year following diagnosis,” write the investigators. Gay and other men who have sex with men continue to be a main focus of the HIV epidemic in industrialised countries such as the US. Recent research suggests that between 25 and 50% of all new infections originate in individuals who have been recently infected with the virus.

[…] At baseline, the men reported a mean of nine sex partners in the previous three months. This fell to a mean of seven partners in the three months after their diagnosis, and there was a further slight fall at twelve months (mean, six partners).

Great, right?

Except once the novelty of being infected wears off, it seems men who have sex with men (MSM) return to their same old habits. And sometimes go at it ever harder.

The proportion of men who reported a main partner increased from 20% at baseline to 48% at the end of the study. This increase was significant (p < 0.001). Almost half (46%) of men reported unprotected sex with a recent partner at the beginning of the study. This fell to 39% after nine months, but then increased sharply to 57% at the end of the study. There was some evidence that men were serosorting, At baseline, 14% reported having a partner who was HIV-positive, and this increased to 33% at month three and 39% at the end of the study. The proportion of men reporting recent unprotected sex with an HIV-negative partner, or man of unknown status, fell from 42% at baseline to 23% at month nine. However, the proportion increased to 50% at month twelve.

And what about the drugs?

Methamphetamine use was widespread. At baseline, 30% reported using the drug during their last sexual encounter. This fell to 11% at month three and remained steady for the rest of the study. However, over the twelve months of the study, the proportion of methamphetamine users reporting risky sex increased significantly (p = 0.05).

So: In the immediate, HIV is an effective deterrent against unprotected sex, which of course protects other people but does little for the HIV health of the subject (I mean, he’s already got the virus). But once men come to terms with their poz status, it’s back to tricks. Wonderful.

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    I totally disagree w/ this article. I could be in the 1% that doesn’t use these unsafe and moronic practice’s ? Is the gay community really this uneducated and don’t care… Wow..
    How many more have to Die ??????

  • Cam


    It isn’t The Gay community. This study seemed to focus in only on a group that had a high incidence of meth use. They were only studying people who had recently become HIV positive. IT would be like interviewing only women who had just had a baby and then asking why every single woman out there has a baby.

  • Dillons

    This article was poorly written and had a terrible intro. Who are the hacks writing for Queerty? Do they have any sort of an education? Or did someone hire all his friends to write?

  • Fitz

    That means nothing. How many drunks stop drinking out at bars after their first DUI. (for a month or so). How many obese people suddenly discover the green aisle after their diagnosis with diabetes (for a month or two). How many of us (hand raised) suddenly drive more slowly after a speeding ticket (for a month). Judgmentalness isn’t helpful. It is very hard to change human behavior, especially one that has a known reward path. (like getting off, or getting ego strokes).

  • Daez

    So in short, stupid people do stupid things, and most of those that actually got infected with HIV in the past decade were behaving stupidly? Good thing they funded a study to discover that.

  • Kieran

    @Daez: Cheeky today, aren’t we?

  • Tom

    The only thing stupid here is the way this study was interpreted and regurgitated into a ridiculously inflammatory amd factually innacurate “article” by some self-hating hack writing for Queerty.

  • James

    Even if the information in the article is somewhat misrepresented – it’s a good reminder of why people should use protection; even better, a good reason to enter a loving, monogamous relationship and have your partner tested before having unprotected sexual relations. HIV is very much a real threat – unfortunately for some, that only sinks in once they’ve picked it up.

  • Greg from Denver

    Studies try to have answers, but when it comes to people nothing happens in isolation. Did the study cover multiple cities or only one? were support services available to the newly infected such as a Strength In Numbers group or other HIV + peer support group? Was there a safe meth addiction program available ? The study maybe address some of these questions in a way that a relatively short article can.

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