Do Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) in the United States Understand that HIV Serodiscordance is Possible?

Bradley H. Wagenaar1, Kristina L. Grabbe2, Rob Stephenson3, Christine M. Khosropour1, Patrick S. Sullivan*, 1
1 Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
2 Capacity Building Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
3 Hubert Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

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© Wagenaar et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the 1518 Clifton Road, N. E., Room 438, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA; Tel: 404-727-2038; E-mail:



Little is currently known about the extent to which US MSM understand the possibility that a long-term sex partner can have an HIV status different than one’s own status. This information is important in the adaptation of Couples Voluntary HIV Counseling and Testing (CVCT) for US MSM.


428 US MSM completed an online survey using from March-April, 2009.


Of 426 MSM with complete data, 21.1% (90) were not definitively aware that serodiscordance is possible. Factors associated with a lack of understanding that serodiscordance is possible were: never having tested for HIV (OR: 2.0; CI: 1.1, 3.8), compared to testing 0-6 months previously and having a high school education or less (OR: 2.2; CI: 1.1, 4.5), compared to men who had completed at least some college.


A large proportion of young, internet-using MSM in the United States may not understand that HIV serodiscordance is possible within sexual partnerships. Based on these results, we recommend that CVCT provided to male couples in the United States should include education on HIV serodiscordance.

Keywords: : CVCT, HIV knowledge, HIV serodiscordance, HIV/AIDS, epidemiology..