Get access

Claiming HIV Infection From Improbable Modes as a Possible Coping Strategy


  • David A. Moskowitz

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Communication
      University of Texas at San Antonio
    Search for more papers by this author
    • The author gives special thanks to David Seal and Michael Roloff for their critical feedback. Preparation of this article was supported, in part, by Center Grant P30-MH52776 from the National Institute of Mental Health (J. A. Kelly, Principal Investigator) and by NRSA Postdoctoral Training Grant T32-MH19985 (S. Pinkerton, Principal Investigator).

David Moskowitz, Department of Communication, University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, MB 2.312, San Antonio, TX 78249. E-mail:


Despite the extreme improbability of contracting HIV from oral intercourse, individuals continue to claim seroconversion via such behaviors. Among a sample of HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM), those who attributed contracting HIV from oral intercourse or other non-anal intercourse sexual behaviors were 5 times more likely to be a racial minority and 2 times more likely to be of lower socioeconomic status. Those believing less in a just world were 2 times more likely to attribute contracting HIV from non-anal intercourse sexual behaviors. Attributing HIV contraction to improbable modes may be an attractive coping strategy to deflect the stigma more intensely felt among poorer, minority HIV-positive MSM, and among men who are sensitive to fairness and justice.