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Condom Promotion-Crucial To HIV/AIDS Prevention

A UK community survey reveals that more than one in three HIV positive gay men have unprotected sex. The survey is due to be published in the journal Sexually// Transmitted Infections .

Yet, that’s not all. Almost one in five HIV negative men say that they do the same.

The findings based on a survey of men at gay bars, clubs, and saunas in London, Manchester, and Brighton between 2003 and 2004, involved information on lifestyle, background, and sexual behavior. As part of the survey, almost 3600 questionnaires were handed out of which 2640 of which were completed. Saliva samples were also requested to find out about HIV prevalence, and 2311 men agreed to provide these.

Results showed that the rate of HIV infection was highest in Brighton, at almost 14 percent, and lowest in Manchester, at 8.6 percent. But the rates of undiagnosed infection was high in all three cities, ranging from one in three in Brighton to more than four out of 10 (44 percent) in London.

A surprising observation was that across the entire sample, one in three men who were HIV positive did not know they had the infection. This was despite the fact that over two thirds of these men said they had been to a sexual health (GUM) clinic within the past year.

Almost one in five (18 percent) of HIV negative men and over a third (37 percent) of HIV positive men said they had had unprotected sex with more than one partner in the past year. Over the same time period, one in five HIV negative men and four out of 10 HIV positive men said that they had had a sexually transmitted infection.

As a conclusion of this survey, the authors say that despite the availability of treatment and a national policy to promote HIV testing, a significant proportion of infection remains undiagnosed.

They call for renewed efforts to be made to boost diagnosis and curb risk behaviors that encourage onward transmission of HIV and other sexually transm
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