More Than One-Third of HIV-Positive MSM in U.K. Having Unprotected Sex, Study Says
More than one-third of HIV-positive men who have sex with men in the United Kingdom continue to have unprotected sex, according to a study published on Tuesday in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. For the study, Julie Dodds of the Centre for Sexual Health and HIV Research at the University College London and colleagues conducted surveys between 2003 and 2004 among 2,640 men in Manchester, Brighton and London (AFP/Yahoo! News, 4/30). The surveys were filled out by study participants at gay clubs, bars and saunas, BBC News reports. Thirty-seven percent of HIV-positive men and 18% of the HIV-negative men surveyed said they had unprotected sex with more than one partner during the past year. During the same time period, one in five HIV-negative men and four in 10 HIV-positive men said that they had contracted a sexually transmitted infection, the study found. One-third of the HIV-positive men did not know their status, but more than two-thirds of these men said they had been to a sexual health clinic during the past year, according to the study. HIV prevalence among the study participants was highest in Brighton, at almost 14%, and prevalence was lowest in Manchester, at 8.6%, the study found. About one-third of new HIV cases in the United Kingdom are among MSM with more than 7,450 new cases identified in 2005, BBC News reports.
Study co-author Danielle Mercey said, "We have to renew our efforts to ensure people with HIV get early diagnosis and also look to curb risky behavior," adding, "It is only by early diagnosis and safe sex that we will reduce the rate of HIV." Michael Carter of Aidsmap said the study's findings "are entirely realistic, but before we condemn the figures, we have to see it in context." He added, "Many of these men with HIV will be having sex with other men with HIV." Will Nutland, head of health promotion at the Terrence Higgins Trust, said the study's findings support other evidence that "demonstrates the need for ongoing, targeted HIV prevention work with gay and bisexual men" in the United Kingdom, adding, "The number of gay men with undiagnosed HIV infection is not reducing" (BBC News, 4/30).
The study is available online.