More gay and bisexual men are getting tested for HIV than ever before, according to new research.
The National Gay Men’s Sex Survey found that 77% of men who have sex with men (MSM) have been tested for HIV, compared to 72% in 2010, while 55% had been tested in the last 12 months, compared to just 36% in 2010.
They also found, however, that one in four MSM have never had an HIV test and that one in three are ‘not definite’ about their current HIV status.
Cary James, Head of Health Promotion at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “The Gay Men’s Sex Survey gives us a well rounded view of the landscape in which we’re working, since the data comes from gay and bisexual men themselves.
“These findings will help shape future sexual health promotion and HIV prevention tactics. We’re concerned that a third of gay men are not definite about their HIV status – particularly as we know that one in seven men who have sex with men are undiagnosed.
“Knowing your HIV status is key to tackling the HIV epidemic, as people who are on treatment are highly unlikely to pass on the virus, so it’s really important to get tested. Testing is fast, easy and confidential.”
The survey also found that one in three sexually active gay men had unprotected anal sex with at least one non-steady partner in the past 12 months.
Cary continued: “Studies have suggested that condoms have prevented 80,000 infections since the start of the HIV epidemic. But this survey shows that perfect condom use is not a reality for everyone.
“We must continue to champion safe sex messages to gay men, but we also need to tackle prevention on all fronts if we are to beat this epidemic. That means regular testing, successful treatment and, critically, PrEP – in addition to condoms.”
Another area the research focused on was fulfilment, with 60% of those surveyed saying they were happy with their sex life – gay men over the age of 65 were most likely to be happy, while those in their 40s were least likely to be happy.
The National Gay Men’s Sex Survey is the largest of its kind in the UK, and was carried out by Sigma Research at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine on behalf of LGBT charity Terrence Higgins Trust.
The Gay Men’s Sex Survey 2014 is available to read at sigmaresearch.org.uk
For more information on HIV and the Terrence Higgins Trust’s work visit tht.org.uk