Unprotected Sex Increasing Among Gay Men, New York Times Reports
As part of its continuing "AIDS at 20" series, the New York Times reports on how gay men are "spurn[ing]" AIDS prevention messages and increasingly engaging in unprotected sex. According to the Times, condom use to prevent the spread of HIV was once a "rallying call" for the gay community, but is now the subject of "controversy and debate." Surveys indicate that unprotected anal intercourse among gay men "young and old" is becoming more common in bars, sex clubs and circuit parties and in one-on-one encounters that are often arranged over the Internet. In an era where fewer people are dying from AIDS-related complications due to effective drug combinations; the risk of infection can be reduced by taking "post-exposure prevention" medications; and some HIV-positive men "argue" that they are not "obligat[ed]" to help prevent HIV's spread, public health experts face a "new and perplexing challenge" with "hyper-vigilance ... no longer always an easy sell" (Goode, New York Times, 8/19). The full article is available online.
Fire Island Still Attracts Gay Men
In a related story, the AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch profiles Fire Island, a sandbar 40 miles east of New York City that was once the "center of the gay revolution," and two residents of The Pines community on the island, one of whom is HIV-positive. The island, where "[s]ex was free and plentiful" in the 1970s, still attracts many gay men, and unprotected sex continues to be "commonly practiced," according to the AP/Times-Dispatch. "There's a self-destructive, risk-taking attitude toward sex. It's shocking, this enchantment with danger. And it's prevalent," Dr. Alvin Friedman-Kien, a professor at New York University Medical School, said. Doctors and Fire Island residents estimate that about one-quarter of the 6,000 gay men who come to The Pines in the summer are HIV-positive (Dobnik, AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 8/19).