LONDON — Health experts in the UK were slated to meet in London Friday to share evidence and devise new strategies to address what they say are record high STI rates for gay men there, the Independent reports.
Rates of gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis in gay men have soared in recent years, official figures show, while new HIV infections have also reached record highs, the paper said.
Experts say that, paradoxically, the rise of successful drug treatments for HIV has contributed to increased infection rates for other sexually transmitted infections. More men are having unprotected sex in the assumption that they no longer need to wear a condom to protect themselves from the virus, once considered a death sentence before the advent of effective anti-retroviral drugs. Other men are lowering their risk by sero-sorting, or ensuring partners have the same HIV status as them, but then having unprotected sex, risking the transmission of other infections, the Independent said.
The problem has taken on a worrying new dimension in the past five years, with a minority of gay men, particularly in London and other major cities, taking up high risk sexual behavior associated with the injection club drugs such as crystal meth.
Infection rates for HIV itself are also on the rise, with 3,250 new diagnoses in men who have sex with men the UK in 2012, an all-time high, the paper reported.
There were 36,000 STI diagnoses in men who have sex with men in England alone in 2012, including 8,500 new cases of chlamydia, 10,800 for gonorrhoea and 2,100 cases of syphilis. Although improved testing and screening explains some of the rise, health experts agree that high risk behaviours have become much more common, the Independent reports.
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