New Reports Reveal Unprotected Anal Sex On The Rise, Increased Concern Over HIV
New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals a sharp increase in the number of men having unprotected anal sex and the findings are heightening concerns about an increase in H.I.V. here in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of men who told federal health investigators that they had had unprotected anal sex in the last year rose nearly 20 percent from 2005 to 2011. In the 2011 survey, unprotected sex was more than twice as common among men who said they did not know whether they were infected with H.I.V.
Being tested even once for H.I.V. is associated with men taking fewer risks, whether the test is positive or negative, health experts say. But the most recent survey found that a third of the men interviewed had not been tested in the past year.
The findings are worrying because “unprotected anal intercourse is in a league of its own as far as risk is concerned,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the disease centers, said on Wednesday as the figures were released.
So what can we attribute to the rise in unprotected anal sex?
Dr. Frieden theorizes that more men are "sero-sorting," meaning that men that are H.I.V-negative (to their knowledge) are choosing to have sex with those that they believe are also uninfected.
“The problem with sero-sorting is that it’s really easy to get it wrong,” Dr. Frieden said. “When one-third of men aren’t even tested in the last year and a tenth of those who thought they were negative were actually positive, you don’t want to risk your life on a guess.”
Alex Carballo-Diéguez a researcher at the H.I.V. Center of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University maintains that young gay men are simply less worried about contracting H.I.V. He says:
“H.I.V. has become a chronic disease, and everyone knows some behaviors are bad for you, like smoking and trans fats. But in the moment of excitement, they’re going to do what they enjoy.”
In contrast New York University researcher Perry N. Halkitis argues that young men still fear getting H.I.V., but that they also believe that the disease is difficult to contract presuming that any sexual partners that have H.I.V. are taking their antiretroviral drugs daily and therefore H.I.V. is difficult to transmit.
Halkitis also theorizes that the collapsed economy brings more risk into the lives of individuals, which correlates with them making higher risk choices.
What do you think is the reasoning behind the increase in unprotected anal sex, Instincters? Can those numbers decrease?
The CDC's data was garnered from the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.