Background: Most men who have sex with men (MSM) within the United States acquire human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) while in a same-sex relationship. Few studies have examined HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing rates among MSM couples. Interestingly, the patterns that MSM test for HIV while in their relationships remain largely unknown. The current study helps fill this gap in knowledge by assessing HIV testing patterns and HIV and STI testing rates from a large convenience sample of Internet-using MSM couples.
Methods: The current study used a cross-sectional study design to collect dyadic data from 361 MSM couples who lived throughout the United States. A novel recruitment strategy that included placing paid targeted advertisements on Facebook enrolled both men in the couple to independently complete the confidential electronic survey.
Results: Nearly half of the HIV-negative men indicated either not having been tested for HIV since their relationship started or only testing if they believed they were at risk. Few men reported testing every 3 to 4 months. HIV/STI testing rates varied among the sample of couples. Few men reported having been diagnosed with a recent STI. Testing patterns and rates were mostly similar, irrespective of whether unprotected anal intercourse was practiced within and/or outside the relationship.
Conclusions: HIV testing and prevention services must target men who are at risk for acquiring HIV within MSM couples. To help accomplish this goal, additional research is needed to examine the specific barriers and facilitators to HIV and STI testing among MSM in couples.