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Most HIV-Positive MSM Practice Abstinence, Condom Use or Monogamy to Reduce Chances of HIV Transmission, Study Says

October 1, 2004

Most HIV-positive men who have sex with men in the United States are taking precautionary measures to avoid transmitting the virus to their partners, according to a study published on Thursday in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Reuters/Yahoo! News reports (Simao, Reuters/Yahoo! News, 9/30). The survey, which was conducted in 16 states from 2000 to 2002, included 1,923 MSM who had been diagnosed HIV-positive at least one year earlier. According to the survey, 61% of the men reported having had sex with a man in the previous year, 31% had abstained from sex and 8% reported they had sex but not with a man. Overall, 40% of sexually active MSM reported having insertive anal intercourse during their last sexual encounter, and of these, 25% did not use a condom. There was no significant difference in condom use during insertive anal intercourse between men who had steady partners and those who did not, according to the study. For HIV-positive MSM who had insertive anal intercourse with HIV-negative partners or partners whose status was unknown, 14% and 25%, respectively, did not use a condom (Campsmith et al., MMWR, 10/1). Unprotected anal sex is considered a main route of HIV transmission, and HIV-positive men are more likely to transmit the virus to a partner through unprotected insertive anal sex than receptive anal sex or oral sex (Reuters/Yahoo! News, 9/30). The study concludes that "more intensive and comprehensive HIV prevention efforts are needed" for the "small percentage" of HIV-positive MSM who report having unprotected insertive anal intercourse with a partner who is HIV-negative or whose status is unknown "to eliminate this risk behavior" (MMWR, 10/1).

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