Health

‘Game changer’ HIV drug leading to less gay men using condoms


The study found that between 2013 and 2017, the use by men in Sydney and Melbourne  without HIV using the drug rose from 2% to 24% (Picture:Getty)

Gay and bisexual men are less likely to use condoms after a ‘game changer’ HIV drug reduced the chance of being infected by 90%, a study has found.

Sexual health trends of men in Australia have been analysed before and after daily pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug, Truvada, became widely available in Australian cities.

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The drug is thought to be more than 90% effective and works by killing off the virus before it becomes established after transmission from an infected partner.

In London, one clinic reported a 42% drop in new HIV infections since PrEP became available, the first significant drop in decades.

However, it becomes less effective if it is not taken consistently, and does not stop the spread of other sexually transmitted infections.

Men on PrEP who had unprotected anal sex with a casual partner rose from 1% to 16%(Picture:Getty)

The study found that between 2013 and 2017, the use of PrEP by men in Sydney and Melbourne who do not have HIV rose from 2% to 24%.

In the same period, men on PrEP who had unprotected anal sex with a casual partner rose from 1% to 16% .

Even men who were not protected by PrEP and who were HIV negative or untested reported they were more likely to have unprotected anal sex with a casual partner.

This rate rose from 30% to 39%.

‘PrEP has been heralded as a game-changer for HIV,’ Professor Martin Holt from the University of New South Wales said.

He added: ‘If individuals not taking PrEP feel safer, they might use condoms less often because they perceive that sex without a condom has become less risky as PrEP use by others increases.

‘The long-term consequences of this shift in community behaviour are unclear. It’s possible for HIV transmission to rebound in HIV-negative and untested men not using PrEP.’

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