Should it be illegal for HIV-positive persons to have unprotected sex without disclosure? An examination of attitudes among US men who have sex with men and the impact of state law

Keith J. Horvath, Richard Weinmeyer, Simon Rosser

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44 Scopus citations

Abstract

The aims of this study were to describe the overall pattern and predictors of attitudes toward criminalizing unprotected sex without disclosure by persons living with HIV among a broad sample of men who have sex with men (MSM) living in the USA, and to examine whether attitudes and sexual risk behavior differ by states with HIV-specific laws or no such laws. Participants (n=1725) were recruited in a 3.5 month period to complete a cross-sectional 70-minute online survey assessing attitudes and high risk sexual behavior. Participants self-identified as male, 18 years of age or older, a US resident, and having ever had sex with a man. In addition, participants were coded as residing in a state with HIV-specific laws or not. Results showed that most (65%) respondents believed it should be illegal for persons living with HIV to have unprotected sex without disclosure. However, among the total sample and HIV-positive MSM, attitudes and unprotected sex with recent partners did not vary by state law. Believing that it should not be illegal for persons living with HIV to have unprotected sex without disclosure was associated with HIV-positive status (OR=0.33), higher education (ORs=0.42-0.64), gay orientation (non-gay orientation: OR=1.54), perceptions that state residents were somewhat or very accepting toward homosexuality (OR=0.75), unprotected anal intercourse with two or more recent sexual partners (OR=0.72), and lower perceptions of responsibility (OR=0.75). The results did not support the proposition that HIV-specific laws deter high-risk sexual behavior, however further research is needed to examine whether they act as a barrier for MSM at highest risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1221-1228
Number of pages8
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Volume22
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was undertaken as part of the ‘‘Structural Interventions to Lower Alcohol-related STI/HIV,’’ grant number R01AA01627001, funded by the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Keywords

  • HIV
  • law
  • men who have sex with men
  • sexual risk behavior

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