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Men's Attitudes to Intimate Life (MAIL)

Welcome to the website of the MAIL study – an interview study of attitudes towards parenthood and intimate life among HIV-positive gay and bisexual men in London.

About the study

Men’s Attitudes to Intimate Life (MAIL) seeks to find out how younger non-heterosexual men living with HIV approach their personal life and what they think about the future. The study is a two-year project funded by the British HIV Association and the Wellcome Trust. It is conducted by the Reproductive Sociology Research Group (ReproSoc) at the University of Cambridge in collaboration with HIV clinics in London.

Why is this study taking place?

Based on available estimates, 1 in 20 gay men in the UK – and 1 in 10 gay men in London – have HIV. Many research studies have focused on the sexual health of gay and bisexual men, but the reproductive health of this population has received little attention. Studies of gay fathers rarely mention HIV and what we know about HIV-positive parenthood concerns heterosexual women and couples. There is virtually no scientific evidence about what men who live with HIV and who form same-sex relationships think about having children. At a time of medical advancements in antiretroviral treatment and the growing visibility and social acceptance of gay fatherhood, it is important to have such evidence.

What is the study going to do?

The study will explore views about issues such as fertility, family planning and ageing in a group of younger (20–45 years old) gay and bisexual men living with HIV, through in-depth interviews with patients and healthcare practitioners at HIV clinics in London. The study will also examine whether patients and practitioners talk about reproductive health issues, whether there is a need for such discussions or for particular kinds of information and whether any communication barriers exist.

How will the study’s findings be useful?

The study’s findings will help develop guidelines to facilitate effective communication with HIV-positive men about their reproductive health. More broadly, the findings will help understand how younger gay and bisexual men living with HIV approach the prospect of becoming parents or remaining childfree. This will have further implications for more general health and social care provision, which needs to reflect the changing realities of living with HIV and of forming same-sex relationships.

Information for participants

Between April and July 2016, with help from research staff at HIV clinics, we will be recruiting for interviews with patients (gay and bisexual men, 20–45 years old, HIV-positive and without children) and healthcare practitioners who work with HIV-positive men. All interviews will be conducted by Robert Pralat, a qualitative researcher with extensive experience in carrying out interviews on the topics of sexuality, health and HIV. Taking part in the study is completely confidential.

Please note that only patients who receive treatment from the following NHS Trusts can participate in the study:

  • Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

To download the participant information sheet for patients, click here.

To download the participant information sheet for practitioners, click here.

If you are interested in taking part in the study, or would like to find out more about it, feel free to contact us.

Study team

Chief Investigator

Mr Robert Pralat (University of Cambridge)

Principal Investigators

Prof. Jane Anderson (Homerton University Hospital)

Dr Tristan Barber (Chelsea and Westminster Hospital)

Dr Fiona Burns (Royal Free Hospital)

Academic Supervisors

Prof. Sarah Franklin (University of Cambridge)

Prof. Martin Johnson (University of Cambridge)


Dr Marta Boffito (Chelsea and Westminster Hospital)

Dr Tabitha Freeman (University of Cambridge)

Contact us

If you are a patient or healthcare practitioner interested in taking part in the study, please contact Robert Pralat at or on 07340 802598. For other inquiries about the study, email Robert at or call 01223 332459.

A World Leader

The Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge is a world-leading centre for teaching and research in Sociology, consistently ranked first in UK league tables by The Guardian, The Times, and the Independent.


« January 2018 »