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Gay Men Often Underestimate Their HIV Risk

Update Date: Jun 24, 2014 06:30 PM EDT

Previous studies show that men who have sex with other men are significantly more likely to contract HIV.  Recent statistics also show that unprotected sex between men accounts for most new HIV diagnoses in the U.S.

However, new research reveals that men who have sex with men often underestimate their HIV risk, and fail to make use of effective options such as pre-exposure prophylaxis drug treatment to prevent HIV infection.

After evaluating a group of men who have sex with other men who were being tested for HIV to determine their risk and whether they would be candidates for pre-exposure prophylaxis drug treatment, based on demographic factors, sexual activity, and drug use during the previous three months.

Researchers also asked men questions to see how they perceived their own risk for HIV infection.

The study revealed that that there was a large discrepancy between actual risk and perception of risk among men who have sex with other men.

"For those MSM most at risk of HIV infection, adherence to a daily regimen of PrEP and use of condoms can potentially slow the forward transmission of HIV to the point that the epidemic cannot be maintained in regions where it is propelled by new infections among MSM," Editor-in-Chief William Byne, MD, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, said in a news release. "For this to occur, both MSM and their providers must be more knowledgeable about PrEP and assessment of HIV risk. Importantly, the U.S. Public Health Service just this month issued a clinical practice guideline on PrEP that addresses indications for use and assessment of HIV risk."

The findings are published in LGBT Health, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

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