Article

AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 353-362

First online:

Why HIV Infections Have Increased Among Men Who Have Sex with Men and What to Do About It: Findings from California Focus Groups

  • Stephen F. MorinAffiliated withCenter for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California Email author 
  • , Karen VernonAffiliated withCenter for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California
  • , John (Jay) HarcourtAffiliated withCenter for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California
  • , Wayne T. StewardAffiliated withCenter for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California
  • , Jonathan VolkAffiliated withCenter for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California
  • , Thomas H. RiessAffiliated withCenter for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California
  • , Torsten B. NeilandsAffiliated withCenter for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California
  • , Marisa McLaughlinAffiliated withCenter for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California
  • , Thomas J. CoatesAffiliated withCenter for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California

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Abstract

A resurgence of sexual risk taking, STDs, and HIV incidence has been reported among men who have sex with men (MSM) in several countries. We asked 113 MSM in 12 focus groups conducted in five California cities to identify factors leading to increased risk taking and assess prevention messages to reduce risk in this population. Participants perceived that HIV risk taking has increased because (1) HIV is not the threat it once was due to more effective therapies, (2) MSM communicate less about HIV, and social support for being safe has decreased, and (3) community norms have shifted such that unsafe sex is more acceptable. The prevention messages ranked most likely to motivate risk reduction encouraged individuals to seek social support from friends. Themes ranked least likely to succeed were those that described the negative consequences of HIV or reinforced existing safer sex messages.

HIV incidence Men who have sex with men community norms HIV communication HIV and social support