A study in the June issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes shows that unprotected anal sex with a partner of unknown HIV status is relatively common among gay and bisexual men in San Francisco, particularly among the city's HIV-positive men. Interviews with more than 10,500 gay and bisexual men in the city from 1999 through 2001 showed that more than 20% of the men who were HIV-positive reported having unprotected sex with a partner of unknown HIV serostatus. The study also showed that 12.1% of HIV-negative men reported having engaged in unprotected anal sex with a partner of unknown status, and 13.4% of men who had not been tested for HIV reported unprotected sex.
Older white HIV-positive men were the most likely to have engaged in unprotected anal sex, according to the study. Overall, about 12.7% of the respondents reported two or more incidents of unprotected sex with partners of unknown serostatus.
The study authors say that because HIV-positive gay men are not always practicing safer sex, particularly with partners who may not be infected with HIV, stronger prevention messages and programs are needed to encourage those who are infected to use condoms and to disclose their serostatus to their sex partners.