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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Recently diagnosed gay men talk about HIV treatment decisions

Ian Down A B C , Garrett Prestage A B , Kathy Triffitt A , Graham Brown B , Jack Bradley A and Jeanne Ellard A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A The Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

B Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Vic. 3000, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: idown@kirby.unsw.edu.au

Sexual Health 11(2) 200-206 https://doi.org/10.1071/SH13100
Submitted: 28 June 2013  Accepted: 30 October 2013   Published: 10 July 2014

Abstract

Background: In recent years, there has been increasing evidence that early initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) may provide health benefits for those infected with HIV. There has also been significant discussion about the role of HIV treatment in preventing onward transmission of the virus. Early provision and uptake of ART to people recently diagnosed with HIV could achieve both individual and public health outcomes. The success of such an initiative relies, in part, on the preparedness of those recently diagnosed with HIV to engage with the therapy. Methods: The HIV Seroconversion Study collects both quantitative and qualitative data from people in Australia who have recently been diagnosed with HIV. During 2011–2012, 53 gay or bisexual men recruited across Australia took part in semistructured interviews as part of the study. The men were asked about their knowledge and experience of, and their decisions about whether or not to commence, HIV treatment. Results: The interviews identified differing levels of knowledge about HIV treatments and divergent views about the health and prevention benefits of ART. For some, treatments provided a sense of control over the virus; others were apprehensive and distrustful, and preferred to resist commencing treatments for as long as possible. Conclusions: If early initiation of treatment is to be encouraged, appropriate measures must be in place to ensure recently diagnosed individuals have access to the appropriate information and the support they need to enable them to make informed choices and, if necessary, to address their fears.

Additional keywords: antiretroviral therapy, initiation, men who have sex with men, prevention, uptake.


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