A study in the February 1 edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes shows that HIV-positive gay men in Los Angeles were significantly more likely to engage in unsafe sex in 2003 than they were in 1998, AIDSmap.com reports. Nearly 570 HIV-positive gay men were surveyed between 1998 and 2003 on their sexual behavior. Between 1998 and 2000, the number of men reporting 10 or more sex partners in a 12-month period remained stable between 8% and 10%, but it skyrocketed to 25% in 2003. In 2000, 11% of the study subjects reported unprotected anal sex with their last sex partner, but that percentage rose to 26% in 2003. "Although these data are limited to sexually active [men who have sex with men] diagnosed with AIDS, these findings are consistent with the recent increase in reported syphilis" among gay men in Los Angeles, note the investigators.
The study is one of several conducted in the United States showing that sexual risk-taking by HIV-positive people has increased since the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy. The researchers believe the increase in unprotected sex is due to safer-sex fatigue, the fact that HIV-positive people are feeling healthier and are more likely to engage in sex while on antiretroviral treatments, and a belief that anti-HIV drugs make them less likely to pass the virus to others.