Treatment News : Sexually ‘Versatile’ Gay Men Likely Fueling HIV Spread

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September 20, 2013

Sexually ‘Versatile’ Gay Men Likely Fueling HIV Spread

The fact that gay men who practice unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) are largely versatile in their anal sex roles likely fuels HIV’s rapid spread among the population, aidsmap reports. Versatile men also report vastly more frequent UAI than exclusive tops or bottoms.

Reporting their findings in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, investigators from the EXPLORE study analyzed data from more than 2,500 HIV-negative gay men who reported having UAI. Recruited for the study between 1999 and 2001, the participants received an average of 3.25 years of follow-up. The study polled the participants quarterly, asking them about the role they had played during UAI: exclusively insertive (top), exclusively receptive (bottom) or both (versatile).

A total of 63 percent reported being versatile, and the participants in this group reported a median of eight incidents of UAI during the previous six months. Seventeen percent of the group were exclusive tops, reporting a median of just one UAI in the previous six months. Ten percent were exclusive bottoms, who also reported only one UAI in the previous six months.

When they did not know their partner’s HIV status, the men were 51 percent more likely to report being the top. And when they knew their partner was HIV positive they were 2.34 times more likely to top.

Possibly helping to explain the high rates of HIV transmission among younger gay men, the study found that those 25 and younger were the most likely to report being an exclusive bottom. As the men got older, the odds of this fell so that the lowest rates were among those 36 and older. The study had a mean age of 34.

To read the aidsmap story, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.

Search: Gay men, HIV, unprotected anal intercourse, insertive, receptive, top, bottom, versatile, EXPLORE, Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, UAI, transmission.


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  comments 1 - 7 (of 7 total)    

N Jones, Knoxville, TN, 2014-07-05 04:26:52
I agree with others here. The numbers of bottoms is probably way too low. In addition homophopia, there is also bottomphobia (inside the gay community). On paper, everyone is "top" or "versatile", but in reality, the majority of gay men are bottoms. If this weren't true, there really wouldn't be a gay community because most true tops are actually bisexual.

CJH, , 2013-09-26 17:29:23
I'm sorry, but the results seem dated. Given how frequently people change habits and the evolution of HIV treatments and care, as well as the improvements in safer-sex products (non-latex condom options, for example) and psychiatric care, I fail to see this research as having accomplished anything but a history lesson. What in the world took so long?

TheTee, Oakland, 2013-09-24 14:29:28
I am absolutely outraged by this article. it is irresponsible, misguided and poorly researched. Lion in Winter, I love your comment! Trophyboy1, you're spot on! Many bottoms claim versatile because for whatever reason it's not cool to be a bottom in their eyes. I am more top because of my butt fetish, but I'd never limit my partner or feel shameful of whichever way we had sex. What about all the men that don't identify with being gay at all? And I'm not talking about the married ones

Lion in Winter, Toronto, 2013-09-24 10:39:43
If I wanted to be an exclusive top or bottom, I'd be straight.

OliverG, Bridgeport, 2013-09-24 10:16:40
This article is infuriating because it seems to equate HIV transmission to a sexual role. This is dangerous rationale. The qualifier glossed over in this "study" is the incidence of UNPROTECTED intercourse. If these men used condoms, whether a man prefers to top or bottom would become insignificant.

Trophyboy1, NYC, 2013-09-23 08:56:52
Any study reporting that a minority of gay men are exclusive bottoms is obviously flawed. Only 10%? ROFLMAO! That's what happens when straight scientists attempt to research gay men... they are unaware that most of the study participants, who claim to be 'versatile', are really just bottoms living in denial or deception. The excessive supply of empty bottoms greatly exceeds the demand, so their 'versatile' claim is a common deception tactic used by fake 'versatiles' to lure authentic versatiles.

Frederick Wright, a town near you, 2013-09-20 15:06:32
I think this is interesting in trying to use behavior siceince to map sexual behavior. My self having spent some looking into people and the explosion of sexual freedom and expression on the internet. The texting of the young and old are idenfining the shelves as bi_ sexual or no label other then they are sexually. So I think the map is missing some truths in the language of this new sexual revalution that is taking place,where younger/ older men and women in expressing themsheves

comments 1 - 7 (of 7 total)    


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