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Many young gay men consider ‘safer sex’ to be about more than condom use, according to a qualitative study conducted in Scotland. Encouragingly, many consider regular HIV testing to be a component of safer sex. More problematically, condomless sex with a regular partner was described as being relatively safe, even when there was little clarity about HIV testing within the relationship.
Nicola Boydell presented the results to GAYCON 2014, the 5th National Conference for Scotland on Gay and Bisexual Men’s Health and Wellbeing, last week. Her research involved in-depth interviews with 30 young gay men, aged 18 to 29.
When asked to outline their understanding of ‘safer sex’, some respondents included HIV testing alongside other practices. For example, a 21 year old said:
“Safer sex generally speaking is using condoms and making sure it’s used properly and stuff and getting checked up regularly, very regularly.”
Another man gave a more extensive definition:
Safer sex “is making sure you’ve got condoms, you have them, they’re in date, you have the proper lubrication for it and make sure you have the, all different sizes and non-latex and make sure you get yourself tested and you’ve got the support there to talk to somebody if you feel uncomfortable or have somebody to go with you.”
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