While the amount of gay and bisexual men being tested for HIV has risen in recent years, statistics have suggested that 1 in 4 UK men have yet to be tested. Cary James, speaking for the Terence Higgins Trust who commissioned The National Gay Men’s Sex Survey, said knowing your status was “key to tackling the HIV epidemic”.
A further statistic revealed that a greater figure of 1 in 3, or 36%, were unsure about their current HIV status. Access to testing, however, did not seem to be an issue, as 98% of those surveyed believed they could get tested if they needed or wanted to.
Over 15,300 men took part in the survey organised by Sigma Research. Questions covered a range of topics including sexually acquired infections, attitudes toward sexual behaviour and whether or not men were happy with their sex lives (60% said they were).
Regarding HIV and STI related knowledge of infection, the survey stated, “While the risk of contracting HIV via receptive sex without a condom was widely known (96.8%); the risk from insertive anal and vaginal intercourse (86.4%) was less well known. In addition almost a fifth (18.9%) of this relatively young sample of gay and bisexual men did not know “HIV cannot be passed during kissing, including deep kissing, because saliva does not transmit HIV” and a quarter did not know that “effective treatment of HIV infection reduces the risk of HIV being transmitted”.
Regarding men who reported having HIV, 31% of those surveyed said they believed alcohol had played a part in their HIV acquisition, with 23% saying the use of drugs factored.
On the issue of HIV prevention, easy access to condoms was considered an essential pre-requisite, with 64% reporting having received free condoms. 7% of men surveyed were currently taking Prep (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis).
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