Morin, S.F., Vernon, K., Harcourt, J.J. et Al. (2003). Why HIV Infections Have Increased among Men Who Have Sex with Men and What to Do about It: Findings from California Focus Groups

By McKay, Alexander | The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

Morin, S.F., Vernon, K., Harcourt, J.J. et Al. (2003). Why HIV Infections Have Increased among Men Who Have Sex with Men and What to Do about It: Findings from California Focus Groups


McKay, Alexander, The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality


AIDS and Behavior, 7, 353-362.

Recent reports from Canada, the United States, the U.K., France, the Netherlands, and Australia suggest that, after steadily declining for a number of years, rates of HIV incidence are increasing among men who have sex with men (MSM). Public heath HIV/ AIDS prevention messages/interventions clearly played a significant role in influencing large-scale behaviour change in sexual risk reduction among MSM which resulted in declining rates of infection. The purpose of the Morin et al. study was to better understand how to shape and frame public health HIV prevention messages that address the factors that may be contributing to increasing rates of HIV infection among MSM.

   We conducted this study to determine more
   precisely why MSM think HIV infections
   have increased and what they think should
   be done about it. We conducted focus groups
   with MSM in California to better understand
   their views of these two important questions
   (p. 354).

The authors conducted focus groups with 113 MSM in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, and Fresno. Black men constituted 37.1% of the sample followed by Latino (27.4%) and white (25.7%) men. Over half (61.9%) were HIV+ and about 70% were over the age of 34.

As a group, the study participants identified three main themes to explain increases in sexual risk behaviour among MSM. The first theme was the perception, particularly among uninfected MSM, that improvements in treatment for HIV now make it a manageable illness rather than a fatal disease. "Participants frequently reported inflated treatment optimism and a belief that a cure for HIV would be found soon" (p. 356). The second theme identified as contributing to increased HIV infection rates was that MSM are having fewer discussions about HIV with friends and within their social networks (including sexual partners) and communities. …

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Morin, S.F., Vernon, K., Harcourt, J.J. et Al. (2003). Why HIV Infections Have Increased among Men Who Have Sex with Men and What to Do about It: Findings from California Focus Groups
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