December 08, 2015
1 min read

Feelings of vengeance influence sexual behaviors among MSM with HIV

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ATLANTA — Men who have sex with men reporting feelings of vengeance may be less likely to engage in safe sexual behavior, according to data presented here at the CDC’s National HIV Prevention Conference.

“Vengeance is defined as the extent to which individuals may inflict punishment or retaliate for a perceived wrong,” Monique Brown, PhD, MD, of the University of South Florida, told Infectious Disease News. “In spite of knowing how you were infected or in spite of feeling that it was intentionally done … we still see this association between vengefulness and these risky sexual behaviors and disclosure outcomes.”

Monique Brown, PhD, MD

Monique Brown

Previous studies exploring vengeance have reported mixed results on the link between vengeance and condom use or disclosure, Brown said. To further explore this potential association, Brown and colleagues examined 266 MSM with HIV recruited as part of a larger, longitudinal HIV disclosure intervention study. Researchers determined vengefulness among participants using a previously established 20-item scale, and based on these results categorized participants as either least, moderately or most vengeful. Using crude and multivariable logistic regression models, researchers then analyzed for associations between these results and self-reported sexual behavior as well as disclosure intentions and outcomes.

They found moderate feelings of vengefulness were associated with increased reports of unprotected anal sex (OR = 2.89; 95% CI, 1.43-5.85), unprotected insertive sex (OR = 2.17; 95% CI, 1.09-4.31) and unprotected receptive sex (OR = 2.45; 95% CI, 1.23-4.85), and also affected attitudes and intentions toward status disclosure. Moderate vengeance, however, was not linked to disclosure behavior, and no associations were seen among participants with the highest vengeance scores and risky sexual behavior.

While the findings concerning these stratified groups were unexpected, Brown said, the associations that were identified suggest further studies into vengeance could provide a better picture of risk behaviors among this group.

“[Vengeance] is an important trait that should be addressed in interventions that are geared toward reducing sexual behavior and improving disclosure outcomes among MSM living with HIV,” she said. – by Dave Muoio


Brown M, et al. Abstract 1212. Presented at: National HIV Prevention Conference; Dec. 6-9, 2015; Atlanta.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.