Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Study explores verbal and non-verbal communication in unprotected sex between men

“When he pulled like the lube out, he put a couple of condoms on the table. So I was given the choice… However, we never actually discussed condoms and as the sexual encounter progressed, we just kind of took it at the silence of not saying anything about it and that it’d be okay and or it was going to happen”.

HIV-positive gay men who have unprotected anal intercourse think of themselves as being in settings where ‘everybody knows the rules of the game’, but these understandings are not shared by all gay men, report Barry Adam and colleagues in the November 2008 issue of Culture, Health and Sexuality. Tacit miscommunication, faulty assumptions and differences in decision-making processes are all extremely common, and this raises questions of how to develop HIV prevention messages for specific micro-cultures, they write.

The researchers from the University of Windsor and the AIDS Committee of Toronto conducted in-depth interviews with 34 men who have sex with men. All men reported that their sex was unprotected most or all of the time, although there was one respondent who did maintain consistent condom use, with some difficulty. Ten of the men were HIV-negative, and the rest HIV-positive. The interviews focused on unprotected sex, and examined “the narrative sequences, verbal and nonverbal communication and tacit decision rules” surrounding the practice.

In common with many other studies, the researchers found that many HIV-positive respondents expressed a strong desire to avoid passing on their HIV infection. One respondent said: “I don’t want to put anyone through what I went through when I found out I was positive”.

Read the rest on Aidsmap.

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