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Gay and Bisexual Men's Health

Serosorting among Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men

A photo of two young men.Serosorting is a practice some gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) use in an effort to reduce their HIV risk. This means they try to limit unprotected anal sex to partners with the same HIV status as their own. However, MSM who practice serosorting are at greater risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) compared to those who always use condoms.

CDC does not recommend serosorting as a safer sex practice. Serosorting is not recommended because: (1) too many MSM who have HIV do not know they are infected because they have not been tested for HIV recently, (2) men’s assumptions about the HIV status of their partners may be wrong, and (3) some HIV-positive men may not tell or may misrepresent their HIV status. All of these factors increase the risk that serosorting could lead to HIV infection.

For sexually active MSM, the most effective ways to prevent HIV and other STIs are to avoid anal sex, or for MSM who do have anal sex, to always use condoms. Serosorting does not protect against other STIs, like hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus, syphilis, and herpes.

CDC recommends that MSM be tested for HIV and STDs at least annually. CDC data show that sexually active MSM might benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months). Regular testing allows people who have HIV to know their status, get life-saving treatment and care, and prevent HIV transmission to others.

World Health Organization (WHO) Information on Serosorting

Additional information on serosorting can be found in a recent document published by the World Health Organization at: http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/guidelines/msm_guidelines2011/en/

 
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