The Impact of HIV to Intimacy and Sexual Behaviours of Gay Couples in Serodiscordant Relationships in Taiwan: a Qualitative Pilot Study Pages 24-32

Mei Chun-Mei Tsai

Department of Social Work, National Taipei University, No.29, Ally. 93, Ln. 101, Sec. 4, Xinhai Rd., Wenshan Dist., Taipei City 116, Taiwan, R.O.C.


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Abstract: Purpose: This study aims to understand the impact of one partner’s seroconversion to intimacy and sexual relationships of gay couples, and the adaptive methods taken by both partners.

Method: Qualitative analyses were performed on the contents of counselling sessions with 6 consented HIV serodiscordant gay couples.

Findings: 1) The main challenge by HIV to couple are sexual and intimate relationship. Both partners tend to conceal, or be vague, in communicating their sero-status, prior sexual history, feelings and emotions and their understanding of HIV. 2) HIV replaces prior commitments within relationships. New rules of conduct are established and both partners demands ‘transparency’ within relationship. Care-taking becomes a way of intimacy expression, and new forms of commitments are established in order to rebuild dyad relationships. 3) Various methods are taken by gay couples to reduce the risks of HIV transmission, such as reducing the frequency of sexual activities, or terminating relationships, finding sexual partners who are also seropositive, or engaging in extra-partnership sexual activities; 4) Safe sex and intimacy appear to be in conflict with each other.

Conclusions: HIV/AIDS interventions include helping clients to reinterpret and reconstruct the meaning of ‘HIV-related issues’, to establish new roles and connections within partner relationship, to improve ways of communication, and to advocacy of safe sex with risk-management or risk reduction practices discussed in the study, for example changing sexual positions, reducing acts involving insertions, ejaculation outside of body.

Keywords: Male gay couple, intimate relationship, sexual behaviours, HIV/AIDS, serodiscordant couple (mixed-status couple). Read more