Circumstances Surrounding High-risk Sexual Experiences Among Primary Care Patients Living With and Without HIV

Rob J. Fredericksen, M. Walcott, Frances Margaret Yang, L. E. Gibbons, E. Fitzsimmons, S. Brown, K. H. Mayer, T. C. Edwards, S. Loo, C. Gutierrez, E. Paez, L. Dant, W. C. Mathews, M. J. Mugavero, D. L. Patrick, P. K. Crane, H. M. Crane

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1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Rates of sexually transmitted infection (STI) are rising in the USA, yet STI risk remains under-addressed by providers, even in HIV care, and with high-risk patients. We interviewed primary care patients living with and without HIV regarding circumstances surrounding sexual risk behavior to identify opportunities for providers to address and reduce STI risk. Methods: We conducted semi-structured 1:1 interviews with patients living with and without HIV reporting ≥ 1 sex partner and varying STI exposure risk in the past 12 months from four geographically diverse US HIV and primary care clinics. We audio-recorded, transcribed, and coded interviews by circumstance type, using double-coding to ensure inter-coder reliability. We used Fisher’s exact and T tests to determine associations with demographic/risk factors. Results: Patients (n = 91) identified a mean of 3 of 11 circumstances. These included substance use (54%), desire for physical/emotional intimacy (48%), lack of HIV/STI status disclosure (44%), psychological drivers (i.e., coping, depression; 38%), personal dislike of condoms (22%), partner condom dislike/refusal (19%), receiving payment for sex (13%), and condom unavailability (9%). Higher proportions of those who were high STI-exposure risk patients, defined as those with ≥ 2 sex partners in the past 3 months reporting never or sometimes using condoms, reported disliking condoms (p =.006); higher proportions of the high-risk and moderate-risk (≥ 2 partners and condom use “most of the time”) groups reported substance use as a circumstance (p =.04). Conclusion: Circumstances surrounding perceived STI exposure risk were diverse, often overlapping, and dependent on internal, environmental, and partner-related factors and inadequate communication. Meaningful care-based interventions regarding HIV/STI transmission behavior must address the diversity and interplay of these factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2163-2170
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of General Internal Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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