Younger gay men willing to take sexual risks: Oz HIV study

Melbourne, Dec 12 (ANI): A new Oz study of HIV transmission has revealed that younger gay men are taking sexual risks frequently and becoming infected with the virus at an early stage.

As compared with older men who have sex with men (MSM), those aged under 35 have been found to be more likely to have never previously been tested for HIV and more likely to report not knowing the HIV status of regular partners.

They were also more likely to report inconsistent condom use with casual and regular partners.

"Recent focus group data have shown that younger MSM are less likely to discuss HIV and other sexually transmitted infections with peers," the Australian quoted Carol El-Hayek, of the Centre for Population Health at the Burnet Institute, as saying.

"It has also been suggested that younger gay men may be more susceptible to engaging in risky sexual behaviour because they are less aware or less concerned about the implications of HIV since the introduction of (anti-retroviral treatment)," she said.

Between 2000 and 2009, 1635 gay men or men who have sex with men were diagnosed with HIV in Victoria.

El-Hayek said the median age of these cases had dropped from 38.8 years in 2007 to 35.9 years in 2009. In 2009, the number of HIV diagnoses in gay men aged 25 to 29 years was 62 per cent higher than in 2007.

She said this could be the result of increased rates of unprotected sex among gay men, an increase in other sexually transmitted infections which make HIV transmission more likely, and more HIV-positive men being sexually active thanks to successful treatment.

The findings were published in the Medical Journal of Australia. (ANI)

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