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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

UNITED STATES: A Comparison of Sexual Behavior Patterns Among Men Who Have Sex with Men and Heterosexual Men and Women


Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes Vol. 60; No.

MSM have higher HIV and other STI rates than do women and heterosexual men - an elevated risk that persists across age groups and reflects biological and behavioral factors. However, few direct comparisons of sexual behavior patterns have been done between these populations.

The study authors compared sexual behavior patterns of MSM and male and female heterosexuals ages 18-39 using four population-based random digit dialing surveys. MSM data estimates came from a 1996-1998 survey in four US cities and from two Seattle surveys (2003 and 2006); a 2003-2004 Seattle survey provided data about heterosexual men and women.

Compared with heterosexuals, MSM had an earlier sexual debut, and they reported longer cumulative lifetime periods of new partner acquisition and a more gradual decline in new partnership formation with age. Among MSM, 86 percent of those ages 18-24 and 72 percent of those ages 35-39 formed a new partnership during the past year, compared with 56 percent of heterosexual men and 34 percent of women ages 18-24, and 21 percent and 10 percent, respectively, at 35-39. In addition, MSM were more likely to choose partners >5 years older and two to three times as likely as heterosexuals to report concurrent partnerships. MSM reported more consistent condom use during anal sex than was reported during vaginal sex by heterosexuals.

"MSM have longer periods of partnership acquisition, a higher prevalence of partnership concurrency, and more age diassortative mixing than heterosexuals," the authors concluded. "These factors likely help to explain higher HIV/[STI] rates among MSM, despite higher levels of condom use."


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Information in this article was accurate in May 29, 2012. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.