High-risk sexual behaviour

Estimated worldwide HIV infections: 50 413 248 at 12.58pm on Wednesday January 22 2003

A study of syphilis among homosexual men in New York City has found high rates of HIV infection, unprotected sex and recreational drug use among the men.

The New York City Department of Health is about to release the report. The city recruited 88 gay or bisexual men with syphilis (cases) and 176 gay or bisexual men without syphilis (controls).

The participants were New York City residents aged between 18 and 55 who reported at least one male sex partner in the previous year. All the men were tested for syphilis and offered HIV tests. The men responded to a series of questions about their sex lives and partners, drug use, HIV status and other topics.

‘What we found was that many [of the men], both cases and controls, were engaging in high-risk sexual behaviours,” said Susan Blank, assistant commissioner of the city department’s Bureau of Sexually Transmitted Disease Control.

‘Specifically, that meant sex with multiple, anonymous partners, unprotected anal intercourse, barebacking, recreational drug use before sex and not discussing HIV status prior to sex with a partner,” she said.

Among men with syphilis the average number of sex partners in the previous six months was 16, compared with 11 among controls.

‘People aren’t talking about [HIV],” Blank said. ‘They are just having sex with other people without talking about it.”

Source: Gay City News

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