Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco) (07.05.12)
HIV risk in gay male couples is reduced when they become fathers, according to San Francisco State University (SFSU) researchers. Their study documented the lifestyle changes of transitioning to parenthood for 48 gay male couples in the Bay Area.
“Given that the HIV risk is so prevalent in the gay community, we wanted to know if parenthood would have an impact on HIV risk,” said study co-author Colleen Hoff, SFSU sexuality studies professor and director of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality. Today one in five gay male couples is raising children, Hoff said.
“A lot of them reported that with children at home they’re exhausted so the frequency of sex decreases, which could mean less risk for HIV,” Hoff said. “There was no resentment or frustration in most couples. Most of them really appreciated non-sexual expressions of intimacy: watching their kids walk down the street hand-in-hand with their partner or just appreciating the time hugging and sleeping together.”
Parenthood did not affect sexual agreements the couples had previously reached - open and monogamous relationships alike continued as before. “Roughly half the couples were in open relationships and reported there’s less time and desire to act on that,” Hoff said. Couples also reported spending less time with gay friends, and more time with heterosexual parents.
Many of the changes documented were not unique to gay couples but typical for all couples with children, the study emphasized.
[PNU editor’s note: The full study, “The Impact of Parenting on Gay Male Couples’ Relationships, Sexuality, and HIV Risk,” was published in Journal of Couple and Family Psychology (2012;1(2):106-119).]