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The relationship between affect regulation and HIV high risk sexual behavior among gay and bisexual men

25 July 1997


Despite significant behavior change among gay and bisexual men since the onset of the AIDS epidemic, there is evidence that a substantial number of gay and bisexual men continue to put themselves at risk for IllV infection. Predictor variables identified with high risk sexual behavior have been found to account for only a small amount of the variance in sexual behavior. This finding suggests that other important factors have yet to be identified. This study examines the possibility that personality and affective variables may also be determinants of high risk sexual behavior. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between affect regulation and HlV high risk sexual behavior among gay men and bisexuial men. Participants were 66 nonmonogamous HlV negative gay and bisexual men who were assigned to high and low risk groups on the basis of their sexual behavior. Participants were recruited from two HIV testing sites in the Seattle-King County area which serve high numbers of gay and· bisexual men. Participants were administered a battery of questionnaires including the Affect Intensity Measure, Unpleasant Emotions Questionnaire, COPE, and Response to Unpleasant Emotions Questionnaire. Statistical analyses were performed to assess for differences in affective experience and affect regulation strategies. No differences were found between the high and low risk groups on any variable. These findings are discussed with respect to methodological and contextual factors which may have impacted study results. Specific recommendations are made for future research in this area. Particular importance is placed on the need to investigate the potential impact of protease inhibitors on perceptions of severity of HIV infection and on high-risk sexual behavior.


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