Wednesday 10 April, 12–12.30 pm
Perceived risk of HIV infection among HIV-negative gay men in Sydney
Dr Limin Mao is a Senior Research Fellow at NCHSR
Location: Room 221, Level 2, John Goodsell Building.
Map reference F20.
A recent paper published in AIDS and Behavior by Dr Limin Mao and colleagues reassessed the HIV-related risk perceptions of HIV-negative gay men. Using data from the Sydney Gay Community Periodic Surveys, gay men’s perceptions of the risk of HIV transmission were assessed by a series of scenario-based anal intercourse practices with a new casual partner of different HIV status and viral load levels. While gay men in Sydney were found to be generally well informed about potential risks of HIV infection, some results merit attention. Firstly, men who
had recently engaged in unprotected anal intercourse with casual partners appeared to perceive immediate risk of HIV transmission to be lower than men who had used condoms consistently in the past six months. This suggests a false sense of ‘personal immunity’ in some men. Secondly, the survey helps to better understand how gay men assess risk depending on sexual practices, serological status and viral load. Gay men’s evaluation of HIV transmission risk is broadly based on their understandings of the hierarchy of risks associated with a range of sexual practices, with
condom-protected anal intercourse as the safest. To a lesser extent, gay men’s evaluation of the risk is based on their casual partners’ HIV status and viral load levels. Together these results suggest that there is a need to better recognise the complex associations between risk perceptions, risk practices, serological status and viral load levels. These findings point to the importance of continued efforts to reinforce HIV behavioural prevention alongside recent breakthroughs in HIV biomedical interventions.
Limin's cross-disciplinary training in medicine, public health (epidemiology), and the social sciences (education and psychology) enables her to bring a broad range of theoretical perspectives and mixed-method research skills to her research. In the past ten years, she has established an outstanding track record of research in the areas of: better clinical and self-management of HIV and depression in primary health care settings; monitoring gay men’s risk practices and identifying emerging risk-reduction strategies using ongoing, repeated,
cross-sectional behavioural surveillance and large-scale, prospective cohort studies; and involvement as a behavioural scientist in international, multi-site, HIV vaccine clinical trials.