Self-Reported Sexual Identity Doesn't Help Assess HIV Risk

'Heterosexual' men who have sex with men less likely to get tested or use condoms

FRIDAY, Sept. 22 (HealthDay News) -- A patient's self-reported sexual identity is an unreliable measure of the risk of HIV and sexually transmitted disease risk, according to a study published in the Sept. 19 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Preeti Pathela, Dr.P.H., of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and colleagues conducted a population-based telephone survey of 4,193 men in New York City, and gathered information on the number and gender of sex partners in the past year, condom use during the most recent sexual encounter, HIV testing history and sexual identity.

Among the respondents who reported a sexual identity, 12 percent reported having sex with other men. Among this group, those who identified themselves as heterosexual were more likely to report only one sexual partner in the past year compared with gay men, but they were less likely to have had an HIV test during the previous year and to have used a condom during their most recent sexual encounter.

"Medical providers cannot rely on patients' self-reported identities to appropriately assess risk for HIV infection and sexually transmitted diseases; they must inquire about behavior. Public health prevention messages should target risky sexual activities rather than a person's sexual identity," the authors conclude.

Abstract
Full Text

Physician's Briefing