However, many HIV infections between regular partners may not be in the context of a romantic committed relationship, and yet this distinction between types of regular partners has been all but ignored.
Furthermore, in this sample, most infections occurred on the occasion of first meeting, suggesting that the most useful indicators of risk may be the characteristics, contexts, and lengths of sexual partnerships and how sex is negotiated, rather than how GBM categorize their partner.
In particular, they have tended to classify partnerships as either ‘primary’ or ‘casual’, but this misses out a large proportion of men who had regular and sometimes longstanding, but less emotionally-committed relationships.
When asked what words they would use to describe their relationships, those in emotionally-committed relationships used terms like ‘partner’ and ‘boyfriend’, but for those in more purely physical relationships the overwhelmingly most popular choice was ‘fuckbuddy’.
Furthermore it found that these categories were not at all the same thing: a large proportion of men describing themselves as ‘being in a relationship’ also had partners outside the relationship, and a lot of men with only one regular partner did not see themselves as being in a relationship.
The authors of the ‘Monopoly’ study comment that previous surveys have failed to capture the complexity of gay men’s relationships.
Nearly half of the men who said they had a primary partner did not consider it to be a relationship: despite this, about half of them only had that one regular partner.Findings suggest more new HIV infections occur in new partnerships, than in established relationships.