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“The Main Concern is HIV, Everything Else is Fixable”: Indifference Toward Sexually Transmitted Infections in the Era of Biomedical HIV Prevention

Elissa L. Sarno, Kathryn Macapagal, Michael E. Newcomb

AIDS and Behavior

With the advent of biomedical HIV prevention, attitudes toward and cultural norms around condom use and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are changing. Participants of 2GETHER, a randomized controlled trial of a relationship education and HIV prevention program for male couples, have acknowledged that having condomless anal sex put them at increased risk for STIs. Nonetheless, facilitators of the program have increasingly observed that participants were indifferent toward STIs and unmotivated to engage in preventative behaviors, particularly if they used pre-exposure prophylaxis. Participants’ reasons for their lack of motivation to take precautions against STIs are reviewed. Implications of these attitudes for public health interventions to reduce rates of STIs among MSM, including frequent screening and treatment of STIs and potential messaging around condom use, are discussed.

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