HIV serostatus knowledge and serostatus disclosure with the most recent anal intercourse partner in a European MSM sample recruited in 13 cities: results from the Sialon-II study

Sialon II Network

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Background: Knowledge of HIV status can be important in reducing the risk of HIV exposure. In a European sample of men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM), we aimed to identify factors associated with HIV serostatus disclosure to the most recent anal intercourse (AI) partner. We also aimed to describe the impact of HIV serostatus disclosure on HIV exposure risks.

Methods: During 2013 and 2014, 4901 participants were recruited for the bio-behavioural Sialon-II study in 13 European cities. Behavioural data were collected with a self-administered paper questionnaire. Biological specimens were tested for HIV antibodies. Factors associated with HIV serostatus disclosure with the most recent AI partner were examined using bivariate and multilevel multivariate logistic regression analysis. We also describe the role of serostatus disclosure for HIV exposure of the most recent AI partner.

Results: Thirty-five percent (n = 1450) of the study participants reported mutual serostatus disclosure with their most recent AI partner or disclosed having HIV to their partner. Most of these disclosures occurred between steady partners (74%, n = 1077). In addition to the type of partner and HIV diagnosis status, other factors positively associated with HIV serostatus disclosure in the multilevel multivariate logistic regression model were recent testing, no condom use, and outness regarding sexual orientation. Disclosure rates were lowest in three south-eastern European cities. Following condom use (51%, n = 2099), HIV serostatus disclosure (20%, n = 807) was the second most common prevention approach with the most recent AI partner, usually resulting in serosorting. A potential HIV exposure risk for the partner was reported by 26% (111/432) of HIV antibody positive study participants. In 18% (20/111) of exposure episodes, an incorrect HIV serostatus was unknowingly communicated. Partner exposures were equally distributed between steady and non-steady partners.

Conclusions: The probability of HIV exposure through condomless AI is substantially lower after serostatus disclosure compared to non-disclosure. Incorrect knowledge of one's HIV status contributes to a large proportion of HIV exposures amongst European MSM. Maintaining or improving condom use for anal intercourse with non-steady partners, frequent testing to update HIV serostatus awareness, and increased serostatus disclosure particularly between steady partners are confirmed as key aspects for reducing HIV exposures amongst European MSM.

Original languageEnglish
Article number730
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Men who have sex with men
  • Bio-behavioural survey
  • HIV serostatus disclosure
  • HIV exposure
  • RISK

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