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NIDA. (2015, December 7). Survey Examines Risky Behavior Among Young HIV+ Men. Retrieved from

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Science Highlight

December 07, 2015
Drug Abuse and HIV Research Report

Young men who have sex with men (YMSM) are at high risk for HIV. Engagement in risky sexual behaviors as well as problematic drug use that can encourage sexual risk taking is relatively high within this group. Individuals with detectable HIV viral load can transmit the HIV virus to their sex partners; thus, gaining a better understanding of the factors related to risky sexual behavior among YMSM living with detectable HIV would be useful to help inform prevention and treatment efforts. From December 2009 to June 2012, a cross-sectional survey of 991 HIV-infected YMSM men aged 15-26 years was conducted in 20 clinics within the Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions. The survey found that unprotected (condomless) sex was more common among YMSM reporting problematic substance use, among those who were unemployed, and among those with virologically detectable HIV who let their sex partners know their HIV status. Unprotected sex was less common among black survey respondents, confirming previous paradoxical findings that risky sexual behavior is lower among black MSM even though this population is more heavily impacted by HIV than any other group. The results suggest that substance use must continue to be a major focus of health-promotion interventions targeting young people living with HIV. Also, more research is needed to understand how socioeconomic factors, like unemployment, are related to factors like sexual risk-taking that affect HIV transmission.


Wilson PA, Kahana SY, Fernandez MI, et al. Sexual Risk Behavior Among Virologically Detectable Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Young Men Who Have Sex With Men. [published online ahead of print December 7, 2015]. JAMA Pediatr. [Pubmed]