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Gay men in the United Kingdom report a wide range of behaviors and "tactics" to practice safe sex

gay corridorGay men in the UK employ a wide range of tactics and precautionary behaviors to avoid risks during the practice of sex - using condoms is just one of the ways in which men protect themselves and their partners.

Avoid sex with partners of different serologic status for HIV, know your current viral load, use lubricants for sexual and regular testing relationships were all behaviors widely cited.

The data come from 2014 gay men, published yesterday (21 / 06 / 2016). The report highlights also gaps in knowledge about HIV for men and suggests that alcohol plays a big role as the "chemsex" can lead men to contract HIV.

A total of 15.360 among men who have sex with men, living in England, completed the online survey in 2014. Most of them were recruited through apps and gay sites (44%) or social media accounts, accounts associated with Terrence Higgins Trust and community gay organizations (40%).

risk reduction behaviors

The men were asked, "Which of the following would you say are part of their approach to reducing the potential to cause harm to himself in the exercise of your sex life?" They offered a list of behaviors and tactics and could mark as many options wished.

For men who do not have HIV diagnosed, most widely used tactics were:

  • Using lubricant for intercourse (77%)
  • Avoid sex with people who have HIV (63%)
  • Sometimes the decline in the number of sexual partners (56%)
  • The use of condoms during insertive anal intercourse (53%)
  • Avoid sex until an STD be cured or have started treatment (53%)
  • Know your current serologic status for HIV (53%)
  • The use of condoms during receptive sex (50%)
  • Test regularly for STDs (41%)
  • Talk about HIV and / or STIs with potential sexual partners (39%)
  • Using PEP (34%)
  • Flirt potential sexual partners "to get to get to know each other better" (30%)
  • Avoid using poppers during receptive intercourse (21%)
  • Avoid totally receptive sex (19%)
  • Avoiding insertive sex completely (12%).

viral load

The ranking of men diagnosed with HIV was broadly similar, but with a number of notable differences. "I made sure my current viral load" was one of the most popular behaviors cited by 72% of men with HIV.

While about half of the HIV-negative men cited the use of condoms as a precautionary behavior, only about one third of men with HIV did.

Regular testing of STD, avoid sex until STDs were treated and talk about sexual health with partners were all behaviors most often cited by men with HIV.

Knowledge gaps

Most men to fill out the survey had good levels of knowledge about HIV. But there are some notable gaps.

While 96% knew that HIV treatment improves the health of people living with HIV, only 74% were aware that effective HIV treatment also reduces the risk of HIV being transmitted.

99% knew that HIV tests exist, but only 88% were aware that recent infections can not be detected in the first weeks and only 50% were aware of guidelines recommending annual HIV testing for gay men.

But one of the most remarkable findings, reflecting the need for HIV prevention to continue to report on the most basic facts about HIV, was that only 81% were confident that HIV can not be transmitted by kissing, including deep kiss.

Alcohol plays a big role as the drug in the acquisition of HIV

Men living with diagnosed HIV were asked, "How much do you think that alcohol influenced your HIV infection?" They were placed on dangers-the-drink-alcoholic-5a formulation similar to this question on recreational and illicit drugs.

Whereas 31% said alcohol played a role in their HIV infection, 23% thought that other drugs played a decisive role in the contagion. Men diagnosed more recently, in the previous year were more likely to attribute their infection to drug use, with 31% doing it.

But more than half of men (58%) stated that no drugs or alcohol played a role in them actually become HIV positive.

The study also confirmed that the search of the use of drugs associated with "chemsex" is a minority, reported by a limited number of men (the last four weeks, 5% had used mephedrone, 3% GHB and 2% Crystal Meth). These men were much more likely to live in London and have diagnosed HIV than nonusers.

In contrast, 89% of respondents had consumed alcohol in the previous four weeks.

Roger Pebody

Published: 22 2016 June

Translated by Claudio Souza in 28 / 06 / 2016 Original inGay men report a wide range of Behaviours to make fri safer

Reference

Hickson F et al.State of Play: findings of England gay men sex Search 2014.Sigma Research, 2016.(Full report freely available).

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