One-Third of Status-Aware HIV-Positive MSM in U.K. Still Practicing Risky Sexual Behavior, Study Says
About one-third of HIV-positive men who have sex with men in the United Kingdom who are aware of their status are still engaging in risky sexual behavior, according to a study recently released by the Medical Research Council, BBC News reports. According to the study -- which included 3,500 MSM -- participants who knew that they were HIV-positive were statistically more likely to have unprotected sex than those who did not know or were HIV-negative. The study also found that 40% of the 300 participants who tested HIV-positive did not know their status. Study author Lisa Williamson of MRC said that more risky behavior was being practiced by men who had been living with HIV for a long time, BBC News reports. The researchers are calling for more targeted prevention methods, including promoting condoms among men who are regularly tested for HIV and urging men who report high-risk behavior to be tested more than once annually.
"What we don't necessarily want to see is an across-the-board increase in testing," Will Nutland from the Terrence Higgins Trust said, adding, "We want to see [MSM] who are taking the greatest number of risks testing more often. Of course, on the face of it, it seems perfectly simple, but what we do know is that one-third of young [MSM] leave school without adequate sex education." According to Nutland, the United Kingdom is "not investing the way we ... should be in HIV prevention campaigns across the whole of the U.K. in the communities who are most at risk." Funding for prevention efforts aimed at MSM is insecure, and there is not enough discussion about the issue within the MSM community, according to the Terrence Higgins Trust. About 2,700 MSM were newly diagnosed as HIV-positive in 2006 -- double the number from 10 years earlier. The 2,700 new diagnoses among MSM in 2006 represent about one-third of all new diagnoses for that year (BBC News, 6/20).