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Less safe sex in serious gay relationships

Less safe sex in serious gay relationships
UPI/Alexis C. Glenn | License Photo

CHICAGO, June 1 (UPI) -- Gay men are more apt to practice safe sex with causal partners than they are with partners in serious relationships, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Brian Mustanski of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine says about 80 percent of gay young men who are HIV positive don't know it, because they aren't being tested frequently enough.

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"Being in a serious relationship provides a number of mental and physical health benefits, but it also increases behaviors that put you at risk for HIV transmission," Brian Mustanski says in a statement. "Men who believe a relationship is serious mistakenly think they don't need to protect themselves."

The study, published in the journal Health Psychology, shows HIV prevention programs should be directed toward serious relationships rather than those individuals who hook up in casual relationships.

"It isn't enough to ask your partner his HIV status," Mustanski says. "Instead, both people in a serious, monogamous couple relationship should go and receive at least two HIV tests before deciding to stop using condoms."

The two-year study involved 122 young men -- ages 16 to 20 when the study began -- in Chicago and the suburbs, who are a subset of Mustanski's ongoing longitudinal study on the sexual and mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.

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