Patterns and Correlates of Deliberate Abstinence Among Men and Women with HIV/AIDS

Published in: American Journal of Public Health, v. 96, no. 6, June 2006, p. 1078-1084

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2006

by Laura M. Bogart, Rebecca L. Collins, David E. Kanouse, William Cunningham, Robin L. Beckman, Daniela Golinelli, Chloe E. Bird

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OBJECTIVES: The authors examined correlates of deliberate sexual abstinence among gay/bisexual men, heterosexual men, and women in a national probability sample of adults with HIV. METHODS: Participants in the HIV Cost and Services Utilization Study (HCSUS; n=1339) answered questions about oral, anal, or vaginal sexual intercourse in the past 6 months; those who reported none of these behaviors (n=415) were asked about their reasons for abstinence. Of these, 201 participants (11% of gay/bisexual men, 18% of women, 18% of heterosexual men) indicated that their abstinence was deliberate. Multivariate models were used to predict deliberate abstinence. RESULTS: In multivariate analyses, not having a primary relationship partner/ spouse was a significant correlate of deliberate abstinence for all 3 groups. Higher perceived responsibility for limiting disease transmission and nondrinking status were related to deliberate abstinence only among gay/bisexual men. Worse health was associated with deliberate abstinence only among heterosexual men. CONCLUSIONS: Perhaps because HIV is more common in gay communities, abstinence choices may be more closely linked to a higher sense of responsibility for reducing transmission among gay/bisexual men, and their illness may be less of an impediment to sexual activity.

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