When 'raw sex' turns to a 'raw deal' … taking the opportunity to think about sex? Interviews with HIV-positive gay men diagnosed with acute hepatitis C

Cult Health Sex. 2013;15(10):1133-47. doi: 10.1080/13691058.2013.809478. Epub 2013 Jul 18.


Since 2001, cases of hepatitis C virus (HCV) sexual transmission have been reported in France, among HIV-positive gay men who do not inject drugs. An earlier study focused on the incidence of acute hepatitis C and risk factors associated with HCV transmission. The present study, based on in-depth interviews, aimed to highlight the biography, the sexual practices and the experiences of gay men infected with HCV. Beyond an apparent uniformity, the group of interviewees illustrates a variety of situations, life stories and health pathways, depending on their age. These well-adjusted gay men were used to engaging in unprotected sexual practices, but before their diagnosis they largely ignored HCV-transmission risk, which was associated in their mind with a pejorative drug addict image. Once diagnosed with acute hepatitis C, they experienced a critical and emotional period during which they were open to discuss their sexual practices and reconsider risk-reduction procedures, without being willing to give up on their satisfying sex life. Health educators should consider labelling hepatitis C as an STI in order to disrupt its negative image and to help HIV-positive gay man raise their awareness of HCV-transmission risks and implement better risk-reduction strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • France
  • HIV Seropositivity / complications
  • HIV Seropositivity / psychology*
  • Hepatitis C / complications
  • Hepatitis C / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Unsafe Sex / psychology*
  • Young Adult