The latest findings from the Queensland Gay Community Periodic Survey have been published by the Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW. Over 1,500 gay and bisexual men took part in the 2014 survey, recruited from gay venues and events in Brisbane and Cairns, as well as through online networks.
The survey results contain good and bad news. On the positive side, gay and bisexual men in Queensland continue to report high levels of HIV testing, with the majority of men saying they have tested for HIV in the previous year. Reflecting the increasing availability of different testing services in Brisbane, over one in 10 men said that their last test was at a community-based service. However, 15% of men in the survey continue to report that they have never had an HIV test.
One of the main transmission routes for HIV is anal sex without condoms between casual partners. Men in Queensland continue to report quite high levels of casual sex without condoms – over 40% of men who have casual sex say they have had sex without condoms at least once (or one in five of all men in the survey). Men who have sex without condoms generally try to reduce the chance of transmission by discussing HIV status. HIV-negative men in particular are increasingly likely to report ‘serosorting’ – limiting sex without condoms to men who they believe are HIV-negative. Associate Professor Martin Holt, lead investigator of the survey, commented "Unfortunately, some of these men may have HIV and not know it, increasing the chance of new infections. Before they consider relying on serosorting, HIV-negative men should start to test for HIV three or four times a year. I’d also like to see them have some other options available, like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)".
Scott Brown of the Community HIV Education and Prevention Program, based at Queensland Positive People, added to Dr Holt’s comments about PrEP. "The survey highlights that there is a place for PrEP in Queensland and the results are well timed as the HIV Foundation Queensland is about to begin the QPrEP trial, which will soon begin recruiting men who have sex with men who do not consistently use condoms". A community forum, ‘Let’s Talk About PrEP’, will be hosted in Brisbane by the HIV Foundation Queensland at 6pm on 16th March 2015.
The Gay Community Periodic Surveys are conducted by the Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW, in collaboration with The Kirby Institute, community organisations and state health departments. The results are used to guide HIV and sexual health programs for gay and bisexual men. Queensland Positive People coordinated local recruitment for the 2014 Queensland Gay Community Periodic Survey.
Scott Brown, Community HIV Education and Prevention Program:
07 3013 5550, email@example.com
Dr Darren Russell, HIV Foundation Queensland:
0438 367 496, firstname.lastname@example.org