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From the CTN Special Issue of American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse: Read the other articles here.




Is Monogamy or Committed Relationship Status a Marker for Low Sexual Risk among Men in Substance Abuse Treatment? Clinical and Methodological Considerations.

American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 2011;37(5):294-300. [doi: 10.3109/00952990.2011.596874]

Donald A. Calsyn, PhD (Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute, University of Washington, PN Node), Aimee N. C. Campbell, MSW, PhD (New York State Psychiatric Center, GNY Node), Susan Tross, PhD (New York State Psychiatric Center, GNY Node), Mary A. Hatch-Maillette, PhD (Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute, University of Washington, PN Node).

HIV prevention interventions often promote monogamy to reduce sexual risk. However, there is little consensus about how to define monogamy. The goal of this study was to determine the extent to which recent monogamy and/or being in a committed relationship serve as markers for low sexual risk among men in substance abuse treatment. Participants were 360 men enrolled in the National Institute on Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network “Real Men Are Safe” protocol (CTN-0018) who completed all assessments (baseline, 3 months, and 6 months). Self-reported behaviors included number of sexual partners, type of relationships, frequency of vaginal/anal intercourse, and percentage of condom use. Results: The rate of self-reported monogamy in the prior 90 days was stable across assessments (54.2%, 53.1%, 58.3%). However, at each assessment 7.5–10% of monogamous men identified their partner as a casual partner, and only 123 (34.2%) reported being monogamous at every assessment. Of these, 20 (5.6%) reported being monogamous with different partners across assessments. Men with both committed relationship and casual partners reported more condom use with their committed relationship partners than men with only a committed relationship partner.

Conclusions: Clinicians and researchers should consider individual relationship context and behavior and avoid assuming that recent monogamy or being in a committed relationship denotes low risk. Scientific Significance: This study provides evidence that, in male drug users, monogamy does not necessarily reflect low sexual risk. Rather, "monogamous" men actually encompass various combinations of partner types and levels of risk behavior that are unstable, even over brief time periods. Clinicians and researchers must take these variations into account. (Article (Peer-Reviewed), PDF, English, 2011)

Keywords: Community health services | Condom use | CTN platform/ancillary study | Gender-specific interventions | Hepatitis C | Heterosexual men | HIV/AIDS | Real Men Are Safe (REMAS) | Sexual risk behavior | Sexually transmitted diseases | American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse (journal)

Document No: 725, PMID: 21854271, PMCID: PMC3238678.

Submitted by CTN Dissemination Librarians, 8/23/2011.


Calsyn, Donald A. mail
Campbell, Aimee N. C. mail
Hatch-Maillette, Mary A. mail
Tross, Susan mail
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