HIV transmission amongst men who have sex with men - NAT comment.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Medical Research Council and the Health Protection Agency research which shows a failure to reduce HIV transmission amongst men who have sex with men despite a decade of prevention work makes for depressing reading.

Around seven gay or bisexual men a day in the UK are getting HIV. To tackle this issue we urgently need the HIV epidemic amongst gay and bisexual men to be treated as a public health priority.

Prevention services so far have been under-resourced, without a clear focus on outcomes or effectiveness. They often do not address the cultural and structural drivers of HIV transmission amongst gay and bisexual men – including drug use, mental health issues and the gay scene.

We need a new approach to prevention for gay and bisexual men which, in addition to continuing condom promotion, also:

  • Provides specialised services to meet mental health needs and drug and alcohol problems experienced by gay and bisexual men
  • Challenges the commercial gay scene and gay dating sites to promote good sexual health rather than undermine it
  • Provides HIV treatment to anyone diagnosed with HIV who wishes to start treatment early to protect sexual partners
  • Communicates effectively to gay men the symptoms of early HIV infection, and what to do if these symptoms occur
  • Provides safer sex information and support to young gay men as they grow up, providing relevant sex and relationships education in all schools and challenging homophobia
  • Is clear on the importance of all gay and bisexual men testing regularly and repeatedly for HIV and other STIs.
  • Makes sure gay men know that increases in the number of sexual partners increases risk of HIV transmission

Notes to the editor:

This comment was in response to research by the Medical Research Council and the Health Protection Agency into HIV transmission rates in men who have sex with men. The full story can be found here.

For further information please contact:

Suzi Price, communications manager, NAT, 020 7814 6733,


NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expertise and practical resources. We champion the rights of people living with HIV and campaign for change.

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