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Study: AUS gays take more sexual risks

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An Australian study has revealed an alarming culture shift in which younger gay men are taking more sexual risks and becoming infected with H-I-V earlier.

The study, by the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, found that gay men under 35 were less likely to test for HIV and more likely to not know the HIV status of even their regular partners. They were also less likely to use condoms consistently.

Epidemiologist Carol El-Hayeck says the trend had to be tracked for some time until it could be certain it was not just a ‘blip’ in the data.

El Hayeck: “This data was collected for over a decade, and what we found was that the age of men being diagnosed with HIV is getting younger, so in 2008 we saw for the first time the median age of men who have sex with men drop to 35 years from 39 years, whereas in the years prior, around 35% of the men diagnosed were under 35, and now around 50% are under 35.”

The data seems to indicate that young gay men are remarkably complacent about the possibility of HIV infection.

El-Hayeck: “Younger gay men tend not have discussions around HIV status, so they might enter into a sexual partnership without discussing their own HIV status or their partners HIV status, and we know from other Burnett studies that younger gay men are less likely to generally have discussions about HIV and STIs with their peers, and they’re less likely to test regularly.”

The findings present a challenge to those working in HIV prevention as they struggle to devise new campaigns to get young gay men to take HIV seriously.

–Doug Pollard in Melbourne

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Written by OutQ News staff

December 17, 2010 at 4:00 PM

Posted in Health, HIV, Youth

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