Keeping it in the room: health, happiness and living in Berlin
It’s now 30 years since the HIV virus was first identified by scientists, which means that by now, everyone at risk of catching it should know about it. But new research by the National Aids Trust (NAT) reveals that many gay men know little about HIV prevention tools, with knowledge among 16-24 year olds particularly low.
For example, if someone has a risk event – say, they forget to use a condom, or it breaks – emergency HIV treatment called PEP can be taken, which massively reduces the chances of infection. Yet less than half (43%) of the 2,300 gay men surveyed knew about it.
Just two-fifths of men could work out what PrEP is, despite it being reported to prevent HIV infection in people who may be at risk, such as those with HIV-positive partners.
The survey also revealed that a third of gay men believed that if you are living with HIV you would be banned from working as cabin crew, a chef or with people with mental health problems. In fact the only job someone with HIV can’t do is work in the front-line armed forces – which is the same for anyone with a long-term medical condition requiring daily medication.
Young gay men (16-24) were the least clued up when it came to HIV. Those aged 16-24 consistently knew less than men aged 25-54. New HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual young men have doubled over the past ten years.
In response to this knowledge gap, NAT is conducting a nationwide survey, Boys Who Like Boys: A Survey of Understanding About Sex, which aims to better understand where young gay and bi guys learn about sex, relationships and HIV. They are looking for as many gay and bisexual men, aged 14-19, as possible to take part.
However, the research did show that gay men understand far more about the realities of living with HIV than the general population. Some 80% of gay men, compared to only 16% of the general population, knew that someone living with HIV, diagnosed on time and on effective treatment can have a normal life expectancy.
To find out more about the reality of HIV visit HIV Aware.
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