Perceptions of Risk Associated with Safer Sex and Unsafe Sex
The panic is here. I know lots of people who worry about every bruise they get, who worry about a swollen lymph node, the night sweats, even a slight fever. Every gay man I know worries about AIDS -- I mean profoundly worries.1
In the face of all the information about AIDS and the need for safer sex, how can anyone continue having unsafe sex . . . especially unsafe sex between men?2 Are gay men who continue having unsafe sex simply being reckless and irresponsible, or are there other factors that influence the adoption of safer sex behavior?
The question of why anyone engages in behavior that places them at risk of disease is an interesting one. In its formulation, the question naively presumes that a simple direct relationship exists between what we know and how we act.3 However, this hypothesized relationship does not acknowledge the potentially critical intermediary role that perceptions of risk may play in this equation.4 The previous chapter examined risk-taking and risk-avoidance strategies. This chapter explores how homosexually active men's perception of risk and perceptions of behavior change relate to their perceptions of both peer5 group and societal risk and behavior change.
How likely is it that you will become HIV antibody positive? Essentially, this is a behavioral question that is, a person's behavior will directly determine that person's risk. However, we know that