Increasing Risk of HIV Among Men Who Have Sex With Men

Changes in treatment beliefs coincide with increased rates of condomless anal intercourse.
Changes in treatment beliefs coincide with increased rates of condomless anal intercourse.

HealthDay News — Men who have sex with men are much less likely to use condoms now than they were two decades ago, according to research published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

The new study, from a team led by Seth Kalichman, PhD, of the University of Connecticut in Storrs, analyzed anonymous surveys given to male attendees at an Atlanta gay pride festival in 1997, 2005, 2006, and 2015. The survey included 1831 men; 81% to 97% were white except in 2006, when researchers sought more blacks and only 39% were white.

Among men who said they were HIV-negative or didn't know their status, 43% in 1997 said they'd had anal sex without a condom within the last 6 months. That number grew to 61% in 2015. In 2015, a third of the men surveyed said they had unprotected sex with 2 or more men; that number was 9% in 1997. 

Among HIV-positive men -- 14% to 17% of those surveyed -- the number who reported recently having anal sex without a condom grew from 25% in 1997 to 67% in 2015. Those who said they'd done this with 2 or more partners rose from 9% in 1997 to 52% in 2015.

"Results illustrate the emergence of an era where antiretroviral therapy is the focus of HIV prevention and community-held beliefs and behaviors regarding definitions of risk create a new and potentially problematic environment for HIV transmission," the authors write.

Reference

Kalichman SC, Price D, Eaton LA, et al. Diminishing perceived threat of AIDS and increasing sexual risks of HIV among men who have sex with men, 1997-2015 [published online February 6, 2017]. Arch Sex Behav. doi: 10.1007/s10508-016-0934-9

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