Medical College of Wisconsin
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Situational factors associated with AIDS risk behavior lapses and coping strategies used by gay men who successfully avoid lapses. Am J Public Health 1991 Oct;81(10):1335-8



Pubmed ID


Pubmed Central ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-0026345226   76 Citations


While most gay men have reduced behavior practices at high risk for HIV infection, there is growing evidence that many also lapse to unsafe sex. This study examined situational factors related to risk behavior lapses as well as coping strategies used by men who successfully resist lapse urges. A convenience sample of 470 men patronizing gay bars or attending social organization meetings in four cities was surveyed. Forty-five percent of men were classified as "lapsers" (those who had had unprotected anal intercourse in the previous 6 months) and 24% were classified as "resisters" (those who successfully resisted urges to engage in this behavior). All provided information concerning the importance of factors related to the most recent occurrence of either unsafe sex or resisting unsafe urges. Most episodes of unsafe sex occurred outside monogamous relationships and with partners of unknown HIV serostatus, although simply inquiring about partner serostatus was relatively common. Lapsers rated affectionate feelings and wishing to please a partner as well as spontaneity of unsafe sex as the most important situational factors surrounding high-risk behavior. Resisters of unsafe sex urges reported active cognitive self-guidance, experience in safe sex, and recall of both AIDS fears and safety benefits as their most important coping strategies. Gay men who continue high-risk behavior may be overrelying on partner reports of negative serostatus. Lapse prevention approaches tailored to situations that create increased risk vulnerability must be developed. Teaching skills already used by men who successfully resist unsafe sex urges might be one approach.

Author List

Kelly JA, Kalichman SC, Kauth MR, Kilgore HG, Hood HV, Campos PE, Rao SM, Brasfield TL, St Lawrence JS


Jeffrey A. Kelly PhD Professor in the Psychiatry department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
Adaptation, Psychological
Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
Risk Factors
Sexual Behavior
Surveys and Questionnaires
jenkins-FCD Prod-444 eb4ebd1a08581aba961d3befd3b851a3c3ec6b46