Judging by new data, approximately one third of gay men don’t know their HIV status, and about one in four gay men have never been tested for HIV in their lifetime.
The information comes from the 2014 National Gay Men’s Sex Survey; the largest sexual health survey of homosexual men in the United Kingdom.
Pink News reports that only 77% of gay and bisexual guys have ever been tested for HIV, and one in four have never ever had an HIV test. About 36% are unaware of their current HIV status.
Related: Honest Confessions From Men With HIV
The website reports that 55% of gay and bisexual men had been tested in the past 12 months, which is up from 36% in the 2010 survey.
Cary James, the Head of Health Promotion at Terrence Higgins Trust, said:
“The Gay Men’s Sex Survey gives us a well rounded view of the landscape in which we’re working, since the data comes from gay and bisexual men themselves. These findings will help shape future sexual health promotion and HIV prevention tactics.
We’re concerned that a third of gay men are not definite about their HIV status – particularly as we know that one in seven men who have sex with men are undiagnosed.
“Knowing your HIV status is key to tackling the HIV epidemic, as people who are on treatment are highly unlikely to pass on the virus, so it’s really important to get tested. Testing is fast, easy and confidential.”
“Studies have suggested that condoms have prevented 80,000 infections since the start of the HIV epidemic.
“But this survey shows that perfect condom use is not a reality for everyone.
“We must continue to champion safe sex messages to gay men, but we also need to tackle prevention on all fronts if we are to beat this epidemic.
“That means regular testing, successful treatment and, critically, PrEP – in addition to condoms.”
Another notable statistic: one in three gay men had had unprotected anal sex with one or more non-monogamous party in the last year.
According to lead researcher Dr. Ford Hickson of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine:
Our findings show that not all men having gay sex are accessing sexual health services regularly.
“Half of the men we surveyed didn’t know that doctors in the UK recommend they test for HIV at least once a year.”