, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 304-312

The relation between beliefs about drug treatments for HIV and sexual risk behavior in gay and bisexual men

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Abstract

This study examined the relation between gay and bisexual men’s (N = 575) beliefs about highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and other HIV-related beliefs, intentions, and risk behaviors. Confirmatory factor analysis verified three belief factors: the extent to which HAART improves health among HIV-infected individuals, decreases the risk of HIV transmission, and is complicated and of limited efficacy. Men who endorsed the belief that HAART decreases HIV transmission risk expressed lower intentions to use condoms for anal sex and were more likely to have engaged in unprotected anal intercourse with a casual partner. HIV-negative men who believed that HAART decreases transmission risk also perceived themselves to be more susceptible to HIV infection. Statistical evidence indicated that perceptions of susceptibility partially mediate the relation between sexual risk behavior and beliefs about HAART, suggesting that beliefs may result from, rather than cause, increased risk behavior.

This material is based on work supported in part under a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship awarded to Mary Gerend. Computing resources were donated by David P. MacKinnon’s Research in Prevention Laboratory.
We thank Mary C. Davis and Leona S. Aiken for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this article. We are indebted to Sam VanLeeuwen and the other staff and volunteers at Project LifeGuard, Phoenix, for their cooperation and assistance in this research. Thanks also to Melissa Marlowe for her assistance with data management.