Rates of condom and non-condom-based anal intercourse practices among homosexually active men in Australia: deliberate HIV risk reduction?

Published: July 15, 2011

Abstract

Objective Three decades into the HIV epidemic and with the advancement of HIV treatments, condom and non-condom-based anal intercourse among gay men in resource-rich countries needs to be re-assessed. Methods The proportions of men engaging in a range of anal intercourse practices were estimated from the ongoing cross-sectional Gay Community Periodic Surveys in six states in Australia from 2007 to 2009. Comparisons were made between HIV-negative men, HIV-positive men with an undetectable viral load and those with a detectable viral load. Results Condoms play a key role in gay men’s anal intercourse practices: 33.8% of HIV-negative men, 25.1% of HIV-positive men with an undetectable viral load and 22.5% of those with a detectable viral load reported consistent condom use with all male partners in the 6 months before the survey. Among HIV-negative men, the second largest group were men who had unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) only in the context of HIV-negative seroconcordant regular relationships. Among HIV-positive men, the second largest group was men who had UAI in casual encounters preceded by HIV status disclosure to some, but not all, casual partners. Conclusions A minority, yet sizeable proportion, of men consistently engaged in a number of UAI practices in specific contexts, suggesting they have adopted deliberate HIV risk-reduction strategies. While it is important that HIV behavioural prevention continues to reinforce condom use, it needs to address both the challenges and opportunities of the substantial uptake of non-condom-based risk-reduction strategies.

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