The overriding message that preventing HIV transmission is a matter of “personal responsibility” may stifle important safer-sex negotiations between male partners and possibly lead to an increase in risk, not to mention stigma, aidsmap reports. Publishing their discussion paper in Sociology of Health and Illness, Canadian researchers conducted a qualitative analysis of a moderated web discussion about a 2010 anti-HIV stigma campaign.

The notion that HIV prevention is dependent on being solely responsible for one's own health can discourage gay men from discussing HIV openly with a partner and from negotiating risk. In the event that HIV is transmitted, a man may blame his partner for his supposed failure to adhere to codes of individual responsibility, rather than focusing on how a lack of effective dialogue about HIV status and risk reduction between the two of them actually opened the door for transmission.

In sum, gay men blame one another for the spread of HIV rather than seek ways to fight the virus as a more cohesive community. Consequently, the researchers called for a more communal approach to HIV prevention among gay men, in which open dialogues about risk reduction are more the norm.

To read the aidsmap story, click here.

To read the study, click here.