The researchers suggested this reflects the belief among some gay couples that advances in HIV treatment reduce the risks associated with the virus.
"When some individuals get tested and hear that they have a lower viral load, they might interpret that decreased risk as no risk and hence use no protection," Hoff said. "It's a calculated risk that they are taking."
Among gay couples that occasionally broke their agreement to practice safe sex, once again race played a role in how they handled the situation, the study showed. Black couples tended to discuss what happened, get tested for HIV and go back to using condoms. Meanwhile, white and interracial gay couples were more likely to continue having unsafe sex.
"We found that black and white gay men process the information they receive about HIV in different ways, and for black men using condoms is the default choice," researcher Chad Campbell said in a news release. "The black gay men we surveyed were aware of the high rates of HIV among their demographic and were taking steps to ensure they don't become another statistic."
The study was expected to be presented on Sunday at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C.
Research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on HIV among gay and bisexual men.
-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
SOURCE: San Francisco State University, news release, July 22, 2012
All rights reserved