Youth living with HIV and partner-specific risk for the secondary transmission of HIV

Sex Transm Dis. 2009 Jul;36(7):439-44. doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0b013e3181ad516c.


Background: Secondary transmission remains a significant concern among HIV-infected youth. Little is known, however, about how partner-specific sexual risk behaviors for the secondary transmission of HIV may differ between the 2 largest subgroups of HIV-positive youth, women-who-have-sex-with-men (WSM) and men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM), METHODS: During 2003-2004, a convenience sample of HIV-infected youth, 13 to 24 years of age, were recruited from 15 Adolescent Medicine Trials Network clinical sites. Approximately 10 to 15 youth were recruited at each site. Participants completed an ACASI survey including questions about sex partners in the past year. Cross-sectional data analyses, including bivariate and multivariable regressions, using generalized estimating equations, were conducted during 2008 to compare recent partner-specific sexual risk behaviors between WSM and MSM.

Results: Of 409 participants, 91% (371) were included in this analysis, including 176 WSM and 195 MSM. Ninety-two percent (163 WSM, 177 MSM) provided information on characteristics of their sexual partners. There were significant differences between the 2 groups in recent partner-specific sexual risk behaviors including: lower rates of condom use at last sex among WSM (61% WSM vs. 78% MSM; P = 0.0011); a larger proportion of the sex partners of MSM reported as concurrent (56% MSM vs. 36% WSM; P = 0.0001); and greater use of hard drugs at last sex by MSM and/or their partner (18% MSM vs. 4% WSM; P = 0.0008). When measuring risk as a composite measure of sexual risk behaviors known to be associated with HIV transmission, both groups had high rates of risky behaviors, 74.7% among young MSM compared to 68.1% of WSM.

Conclusions: These data suggest that recent partner-specific sexual risk behaviors for HIV transmission are high among young infected MSM and WSM. These findings suggest the need to offer interventions to reduce the secondary transmission of HIV to all HIV-positive youth in care. However, differences in risk behaviors between young MSM and WSM supports population-specific interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexual Partners*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult