June 15, 2018 at 7:00 pm EST | by Staff reports
PrEP affects Aussie gay sex practices
condoms, gay news, safe sex, Washington Blade, PrEP

(Photo by Inga via Wikimedia Commons)

NEW YORK — Now that Australia has PrEP, condom usage among gay men is down but so are HIV infection rates — even among guys not using the HIV-prevention drug — according to a new Lancet HIV study reported on by the New York Times.

The cross-sectional survey included almost 17,000 men in Victoria and New South Wales who said they had recently had casual sex with a male partner. From 2013-2017, the proportion of HIV-negative men using PrEP increased to 24 percent from 2 percent. During that time, the proportion of respondents with casual partners who said they consistently used condoms dropped to 31 percent from 46 percent, the Times reports.

Though PrEP was only approved in Australia in 2016, some men accessed it online internationally earlier.

“Safe sex is basically transformed by PrEP,” said Martin Holt, a researcher at University of New South Wales in Sydney, who led the study, according to the Times article.

Strikingly, unprotected sex among men who did not take PrEP increased 9 percent.

“Rightly or wrongly, there is a sense among people that men can have safer sex without condoms for the first time,” said Mitchell Warren, the executive director of AVAC, which promotes HIV prevention worldwide, to the New York Times. “We need a nuanced conversation about the patterns of choices.”

One concern is that PrEP does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections. As use of the pill spreads, some clinicians are detecting more cases of diseases such as gonorrhea, as well as drug resistance to them. The Times cited Dr. Paul Volberding, director of the AIDS Research Institute at the University of California, San Francisco, for the information but other health officials have cited similar trends.

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