AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 20, Issue 10, pp 2266–2274 | Cite as

The Road Less Travelled: Exploring Gay and Bisexual Men’s Explanations of ‘Uncommon’ Routes of HIV Transmission

  • Denton CallanderEmail author
  • Garrett Prestage
  • Jeanne Ellard
  • Kathy Triffitt
  • Graham Brown
  • Ian Down
Original Paper


Although there are practices other than condomless anal intercourse that may result in HIV transmission among gay and bisexual men, very little is known about these ‘uncommon’ transmission explanations. To address this topic, the free text survey responses from 465 HIV positive gay men in Australia were thematically analysed; 123 participants offered uncommon explanations for their seroconversion. Men described several sexual acts they believed led to infection, categorised as adventurous sex (e.g., fisting) and foreplay (e.g., oral sex). Participants also identified mediating factors associated with their seroconversion, either internal (e.g., cum/pre-cum) or external (e.g., sores, illness) to sex. Finally, contextual forces associated with infection were also explored, namely physical spaces (e.g., sex on premises venues) or mental states (e.g., depression). While some uncommon explanations are unlikely to have resulted in HIV transmission, these accounts reveal the diverse and intersecting ways that men attempt to make sense of their seroconversion.


HIV Seroconversion Gay men Uncommon transmission 



The HIV Seroconversion Study receives funding from the health departments of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory, and the Australian Capital Territory. The authors acknowledge the contribution of study participants. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Denton Callander
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Garrett Prestage
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jeanne Ellard
    • 3
  • Kathy Triffitt
    • 1
  • Graham Brown
    • 3
  • Ian Down
    • 1
  1. 1.Kirby Institute for Infection and Immunity in SocietyUNSW AustraliaSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Social Research in HealthUNSW AustraliaSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and SocietyUNSW AustraliaSydneyAustralia

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