The Meaning of ‘Regular Partner’ in HIV Research Among Gay and Bisexual Men: Implications of an Australian Cross-Sectional Survey
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Estimates of the proportion of HIV infections coming from within regular sexual relationships among gay and bisexual men (GBM) vary widely. Research surveys use various partner type categories, but there is little understanding of how men classify their partners. We conducted an online cross-sectional survey of Australian GBM exploring sexual relationships, including 2057 men reporting on 2566 regular partnerships. Just over half of the partnerships were considered ‘relationships’, while the remainder were non-romantic ‘fuckbuddy’-style arrangements. In multivariable analysis, factors associated with considering the partnership a ‘relationship’ were: using a ‘romantic’ descriptor, partnership length, monogamous agreements, any condomless anal sex with each other, love, and commitment. The category of ‘regular partner’ can mask diverse partnership types, which have different meanings to GBM, associated behaviours, and HIV risks. Certain HIV prevention techniques may be more suited to particular types of partnerships. ‘Fuckbuddy’ arrangements need to be more explicitly acknowledged in HIV prevention.
KeywordsMen who have sex with men HIV Relationships HIV prevention Regular partner
This study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (Grant Number: APP602518). The Kirby Institute is affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales. The Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society (ARCSHS) is affiliated with the Faculty of Health Sciences, La Trobe University. The Kirby Institute and ARCSHS receive funding from the Commonwealth of Australia Department of Health and Ageing.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
Benjamin R Bavinton declares that he has no conflicts of interest. Duane Duncan declares that he has no conflicts of interest. Jeffrey Grierson declares that he has no conflicts of interest. Iryna B Zablotska declares that she has no conflicts of interest. Ian A Down declares that he has no conflicts of interest. Andrew E Grulich declares that he has no conflicts of interest. Garrett P Prestage declares that he has no conflicts of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional human research ethics committees and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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