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Then We Looked at His Results: Men Who Have Sex With Men from New York City and Puerto Rico Report Their Sexual Partner’s Reactions to Receiving Reactive HIV Self-Test Results

Abstract

Secondary distribution of HIV self-tests to sexual partners is acceptable but concerns remain about reactions if a partner tests HIV-positive. We report on 14 participants whose sexual partners tested HIV-positive during the I’ll Show You Mine” Study, a randomized controlled trial (N = 272) of HIV self- and partner-testing among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women (TGW). All 14 were MSM and racial/ethnic minorities, mean age was 36.6 years; 86% were gay-identified. Twenty-four partners tested positive; about half were new partners. Six participants had multiple partners test positive. During in-depth interviews with 10 of these participants, they reported their partners’ reactions ranged from tearful and worried among those whose result was unexpected, to resignation among those who suspected a positive result, to nonchalance among partners who participants concluded knew of their HIV infection. After testing, some HIV-positive partners disclosed prior knowledge of their status. No partner reacted violently. Participants typically comforted their partners and encouraged confirmatory testing. Four participants had anal intercourse with partners who tested positive. Participants and partners were able to effectively handle situations in which the partner tested HIV-positive.

Resumen

La distribución secundaria del auto-test para el VIH a las parejas sexuales es aceptable, pero aún persiste la preocupación sobre la reacción de una pareja al testear VIH-positiva. Reportamos sobre 14 participantes cuyas parejas sexuales testaron VIH-positivas durante el estudio “I’ll show you mine” (“Te lo enseño”), un ensayo aleatorio controlado (N = 272) del auto-test y del testeo de parejas para el VIH entre hombres que tienen sexo con hombre (HSH) y mujeres transgénero (TGW). Todos los 14 participantes eran HSH y de minorías raciales/étnicas, la edad media era 36.6 años; 86% se identificaron como gay. Veinticuatro parejas testearon positivas; la mitad eran parejas nuevas. Seis participantes tuvieron multiples parejas que testearon positivas. Durante entrevistas en profundidad con 10 de estos participantes, ellos reportaron que las reacciones de las parejas variaron de llantos y preocupación, entre aquellas cuyo resultado fue inesperado, a resignación, entre aquellas que sospechaban un resultado positivo, a indiferencia, particularmente entre aquellas quienes los participantes concluyeron ya sabían de su infección del VIH. Después del testeo, algunas parejas VIH-positivas revelaron conocimiento previo de su estado de VIH. Ninguna pareja reacciono violentamente. Los participantes generalmente consolaron sus parejas y promovieron pruebas confirmatorias. Cuatro participantes tuvieron sexo anal con parejas que testearon positivas. Los participantes y sus parejas pudieron manejar efectivamente las situaciones en donde una pareja resultó VIH-positiva.

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Funding

This project was supported by Grants from the NICHD (R01-HD076636; PI: Carballo-Diéguez; R01-HD088156; PI: Balán). This work was also supported by a Center Grant from the NIMH to the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University (P30-MH43520; PI: R. Remien, PhD). William Brown III was supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) [Grant nos. R01-LM012355 PI: Schillinger, T15-LM007079 PI: Hripcsak, R01-LM013045 PI: Lyles], the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) [Grant no. P60-MD006902 PI: Bibbins-Domingo], the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) [Grant no. K12-HS026383], and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) of the NIH [UCSF-CTSI Grant no. KL2-TR001870] during various stages of the research and/or preparation of the article. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NICHD, NIMH, NLM, NIMHD, AHRQ, NCATS, or the NIH.The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

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Correspondence to Iván C. Balán.

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Balán, I.C., Lopez-Rios, J., Giguere, R. et al. Then We Looked at His Results: Men Who Have Sex With Men from New York City and Puerto Rico Report Their Sexual Partner’s Reactions to Receiving Reactive HIV Self-Test Results. AIDS Behav 24, 2597–2605 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10461-020-02816-2

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Keywords

  • HIV self-testing
  • Partner reactions
  • MSM
  • Partner-testing