Survey: Two-thirds of gay men have had an HIV test

PinkNews Staff Writer September 17, 2009
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Research has suggested that two in three gay men have been tested for HIV, a number which has risen since 2002.

However, the survey, from Sigma Research, also found that almost half of men having casual sex in the last year never discuss HIV status with partners.

According to the research, 66 per cent of men surveyed in 2007 said they had had at least one HIV test in their lifetime. In 2002, less than half said they had been tested for the virus. Health professionals reccommend gay men are tested once a year.

Although the survey was undertaken in 2007, the results have just been released, due to the detailed information collected. Six thousand men were surveyed for the research.

Of the 66 per cent of men who had been tested, one in seven of these tested positive. Testing for HIV and testing positive was highest in men who live in London, those in their 30s and 40s and those who had more than 30 sexual partners in the last year.

Researchers found that one in six men in their 40s was living with HIV, a figure that was even higher in some areas of the country.

The highest rates of not having had an HIV test were found in the youngest age groups, which researchers said was “unsurprising”.

It was also found that nearly half (49 per cent) of men who had casual sex in the last year never reveal their HIV status or ask for their partner’s.

Marc Thompson, deputy head of health promotion at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “A third of gay men have never tested and with a quarter of gay men with HIV unaware they are infected, the Gay Men’s Sex Survey is vitally important when it comes to planning future sexual health campaigns and HIV prevention work. It’s now recommended that gay men test at least once a year, or after any unprotected sex so if you have any concerns about your sexual health consider getting tested so you know for sure.”

Dr Ford Hickson from Sigma Research said: “We want to say a big thank to you everyone who contributed to the survey including the 130 organisations that collaborated with us and all the men that took the time to complete it. It’s crucial that we hear first hand about the experiences of gay men when it comes to sexual health. The survey is taking a break this year but keep an eye out for 2010 when it will be part of a pan-European version undertaken in up to 20 languages.”

The report can be read in full here

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