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AIDS. 1997 Oct;11(12):1495-502.

Actual versus perceived HIV status, sexual behaviors and predictors of unprotected sex among young gay and bisexual men who identify as HIV-negative, HIV-positive and untested.

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Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California, San Francisco 94105, USA.



To compare the prevalence and predictors of HIV sexual risk behavior among young gay and bisexual men who perceived themselves to be HIV-negative, HIV-positive, or who were untested.


Population-based sample of young gay and bisexual men.


Using multi-stage probability sampling, 408 gay and bisexual men aged 18-29 years in San Francisco were recruited and interviewed, and blood samples for HIV-testing from 364 participants were obtained.


HIV prevalence was 18.7%, although 25% of the men who were HIV-positive did not know it. Thirty-seven per cent reported engaging in unprotected anal intercourse during the past year, including 59% of the men who knew they were HIV-positive, 35% of the men who perceived themselves HIV-negative and 28% of the untested men. Logistic regressions found similar predictors of unprotected intercourse for HIV-negatives and HIV-positives, including sexual impulsivity, substance use, sexual enjoyment and communication problems.


The high rates of unprotected intercourse, particularly among the HIV-positive men, attest to the urgent need for HIV-prevention interventions for young gay and bisexual men. The findings suggest that many of the important variables to target in interventions are similar for both HIV-positive and HIV-negative men.

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