A study in the American Journal of Public Health shows that previously reported rises in risky sex, HIV transmissions, and sexually transmitted disease infections continue to rise among gay and bisexual men in San Francisco. The study, an update of research covering the years 1994-1999 that documented the beginning of these increases following nearly a decade of declines, shows that unsafe sex and STD infection rates continued climbing in 2000 and 2001.
More than 10,500 men who have sex with men completed a survey used in the study. Incidence of anal sex in the six months prior to completing the survey rose from 67% in 1999 to 74% in 2001, with unprotected anal sex with two or more partners during the six-month window climbing from 18% of respondents in 1999 to 23% in 2001. Male gonorrhea rates were shown to have increased from 162 cases in 1999 to 237 in 2001, and syphilis cases rose from six in 1999 to 115 in 2001.
The authors conclude that the increases in unprotected sex seen in the 1994-1999 research were not isolated but the beginning of an ongoing trend. They blame part of the increases on the widespread availability of anti-HIV drugs, which have dramatically slashed the AIDS death rate in the city, and a misconception among gay and bisexual men, particularly young men, that anti-HIV drugs have changed AIDS from a fatal disease to a chronic, controllable condition.