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Trends in Number and Composition of Sex Partners Among Men Who Have Sex With Men in the United States, National HIV Behavioral Surveillance, 2008–2014

Chapin-Bardales, Johanna PhDa,b; Rosenberg, Eli S. PhDc; Sullivan, Patrick S. PS, PhDb; Jenness, Samuel M. PhDb; Paz-Bailey, Gabriela PhDd for the NHBS Study Group

JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: July 1, 2019 - Volume 81 - Issue 3 - p 257–265
doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000002025

Background: Social and legal acceptance of long-term same-sex partnerships in the United States has increased over the past decade which may impact sexual partnering among men who have sex with men (MSM). Identifying whether and how partnering trends have evolved at a national level could improve understanding of HIV transmission and prevention among MSM partnerships.

Methods: We used Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National HIV Behavioral Surveillance data (2008, 2011, and 2014) to study trends in the number and partner type composition (main/casual) of male sex partners among US MSM. Changes over time were assessed in Poisson regression models with the link function tailored to the count and binary outcomes.

Results: The mean total number of partners in the past year increased, while the mean number of main partners remained stable. The percentage of MSM with both main and casual partners increased, and we observed a shift from having ≥1 main and 0 casual partners to having ≥1 main and ≥2 casual partners. Condomless anal sex in the past year increased regardless of partner composition.

Discussion: Findings suggest casual partnering among MSM has increased in recent years, including among those with ≥1 main partners. Both partner-based and individual prevention programs remain critical to reaching MSM.

aBehavioral and Clinical Surveillance Branch, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA;

bDepartment of Epidemiology, Laney Graduate School, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA;

cDepartment of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University at Albany School of Public Health, SUNY, Albany, NY; and

dDengue Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, San Juan, PR.

Correspondence to: Johanna Chapin-Bardales, PhD, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, NE MS E-46, Atlanta, GA 30333 (e-mail:

Presented at STD Prevention Conference; August 29, 2018; Washington, DC.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Received September 18, 2018

Accepted January 16, 2019

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