Addiction to sex: HIV patients suffer more than others

A new study presented at the Albatross National Congress of Addiction shows that HIV-positive patients are much more likely to suffer from sex addiction than the general population. If the cohort of research is small, its results highlight a population so far very little analyzed.

Men with HIV are much more likely to suffer from sex addiction than uninfected people, according to a new study, proposed and conducted by Marie Rouvrais, addiction medicine nurse at Beaujon Hospital and a member of the COREVIH office Ile-de-France North.

22% of the cohort

"When patients are told they have HIV, there are usually three types of reactions: withdrawal from sex, the onset of sexual dysfunction, or the development of hypersexuality," says the doctor. Stéphane Darbeda, psychiatrist and addictologist at the Bichat hospital in Paris, during the presentation of the study at the National Congress of Addictology Albatross.

With her team, Marie Rouvrais interviewed 89 patients. On average, they were 50 years old and had known for 15 years that they were HIV positive. 75% of them were followed at the Bichat hospital, the others were followed at the Beaujon hospital (Public Assistance - Paris Hospitals / AP-HP).

20 patients were identified as suffering from sexual addiction, bringing the prevalence to 22% of the cohort. "When we know that sexual addiction affects 3 to 6% of the general population, we can only note that sexual addiction is much more developed in men with HIV," says Stéphane Darbeda.


Compared to non-sexually addicted HIV patients, the 20-member cohort was younger on average, consumed more pro-erectile substances, and had more sex with strangers. They were also followers of chemsex, a new phenomenon of having sex while using drugs, sometimes for several days.

The mortality rate of people with HIV has been very high for years, the study of such a cohort could not be done very recently, thanks to the arrival of triple therapy in particular.

The PEACCE tool

If sexual addiction is not officially listed in the DSM-5 (American Classification of Psychiatric Diseases), it responds to the clinical features of the addictive disease. Marie Rouvrais and her team assessed whether the patients in the cohort suffered from sexual addiction thanks to the PEACCE * tool, which proposes to answer the following questions (adaptation in French by Laurent Karila):
1. Do you find that you are often preoccupied with sexual thoughts? (Thoughts)
2. Do you hide some of your sexual behavior from those around you (life partner, family, close friends ...)? (Vicinity)
3. Have you ever sought help for sexual behavior that we do not like to do? (Help)
4. Has anyone ever been emotionally hurt because of your sexual behavior? (Consequences)
5. Do you feel controlled by your sexual desire? (Control)
6. Do you feel sad after being sexually assaulted (sex, internet, other)? (Emotions)

* Test proposed by Dr. Patrick Carnes, author of "Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction (1983)".

Video: Swipe left for sex: love & HIV in the age of Grindr. Scott Fried. TEDxPSU (February 2020).