Gay Men Say that HIV is a Top Health Issue, but Few Get Tested Regularly

Published: October 27, 2014

The Rainbow Times
Eric Brus
Original Article:

More than half (52%) of U.S. men who identify as gay or bisexual consider HIV/AIDS to be the most important health issue for their community, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). The 35-page report summarizes findings from a nationally representative survey of 431 men identifying as gay and bisexual. About half (49%) of the gay and bisexual men surveyed said HIV/AIDS is a “very” or “somewhat” significant issue for them personally, but only about a third (35%) said they were personally concerned about becoming infected, and over half (56%) said they were not personally concerned. When the survey participants were asked to describe the most important issue facing gay and bisexual men today, the greatest number (43%) cited discrimination or lack of acceptance as their highest concern, followed by equal rights (26%), and marriage equality (24%), and HIV/AIDS (20%).

HIV Testing: Contrary to CDC recommendations that gay and bisexual men undergo frequent HIV testing, 70% of the men surveyed said they had not been tested for HIV during the previous year, and three in ten (30%) said they had never been tested for HIV. Compared to gay and bisexual men aged 35 and older, younger men were about twice as likely to say that they had never been tested for HIV (44% versus 21%).

HIV Knowledge and Awareness: Only about a third of the gay and bisexual men surveyed were aware that new HIV infections are rising among gay men. In addition, most gay and bisexual men don’t know what the current treatment recommendations are for persons living with HIV, nor are they aware of recent developments in HIV prevention. In particular, only about a quarter (26%) knew about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and just one in ten knew someone, including themselves, who has taken PrEP. Similarly, just 25% knew about treatment as prevention – the fact that consistently taking anti-HIV medications dramatically reduces an HIV-infected person’s risk of transmitting the virus to their sexual partners.

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