Need for Intimacy Plays Role in Condomless Sex, Study Finds

New study from Brown University finds gay and bi men and trans women in relationships with other men forgo condoms to "preserve intimacy."

BY Todd Heywood

August 26 2014 3:37 PM ET

A new study from Brown University in Rhode Island has found that many HIV-negative men in romantic relationships forgo condoms in order to preserve intimacy in the relationship — even when one or both partners are having sex outside of that relationship. More importantly, that desire for intimacy means a strong majority of participants — 55 percent, in fact — are willing to take PrEP to prevent HIV. 

That has significant implications for HIV prevention efforts, since we know that 68 percent of new HIV infections among men who have sex with men and transgender women who have sex with men are happening in the context of primary sexual relationships. For young MSM (ages 16-20) the perception of being in a serious relationship resulted in an eightfold increase in condomless sex, a 2011 study found. 

As a sidenote, taking a swipe at PrEP naysayers, study authors note that the findings do not indicate MSM will stop using condoms once they get access to PrEP; rather the study finds the participating MSM were already forgoing condom use. 

Tags: Prevention, PrEP