Older MSM in Tucson, Ariz., Engaging in Unsafe Sex Contribute to Rise in Number of HIV Cases, Study Says
Many men who have sex with men in Tucson, Ariz. -- especially older, white MSM -- are engaging in risky sexual behavior, which contributes to an increasing number of HIV cases in the city, according to a federally funded study conducted by the Pima County Health Department, the Arizona Daily Star reports. Floyd Meeks, HIV prevention coordinator for the health department, and colleagues in 2003 interviewed 300 MSM and conducted surveys, focus groups and observation of men at traditionally gay establishments. The study estimates that MSM make up about 5% of Pima County's population, but they account for nearly 60% of the HIV-positive people who live in the county -- which contains Tucson -- and within that group, about 70% of them are ages 30 to 50. The study found that some men feel that being HIV-positive is acceptable because they believe that antiretroviral drugs can keep them alive until about age 60. "Many say they simply did not want to live beyond 60 years old ... due to the pervasive belief that older men are not sexually attractive or valued," the study said. In addition, the study found that an increasing use of crystal methamphetamine, "condom fatigue" and a widespread use of the Internet to find sexual partners are contributing to the spread of HIV among MSM, the Daily Star reports (McClain, Arizona Daily Star, 7/18).
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