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Relationship Dynamics and Partner Beliefs About Viral Suppression: A Longitudinal Study of Male Couples Living with HIV/AIDS (The Duo Project)


Accurate beliefs about partners' viral suppression are important for HIV prevention and care. We fit multilevel mixed effects logistic regression models to examine associations between partners' viral suppression beliefs and objective HIV RNA viral load tests, and whether relationship dynamics were associated with accurate viral suppression beliefs over time. Male couples (N = 266 couples) with at least one HIV-positive partner on antiretroviral therapy completed five assessments over 2 years. Half of the 407 HIV-positive partners were virally suppressed. Of the 40 % who had inaccurate viral load beliefs, 80 % assumed their partner was suppressed. The odds of having accurate viral load beliefs decreased over time (OR = 0.83; p = 0.042). Within-couple differences in dyadic adjustment (OR = 0.66; p < 0.01) and commitment (OR = 0.82; p = 0.022) were negatively associated with accurate viral load beliefs. Beliefs about a partner's viral load may factor into sexual decision-making and social support. Couple-based approaches are warranted to improve knowledge of partners' viral load.

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