Study shows equal rates of risky sex between gay and straight male teens — but queer youth still more susceptible to HIV

From the Advocate.com

As part of the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presented a report today analyzing the sexual risk behavior of American males in high school. These risk behaviors included having sex without condoms and having multiple sexual partners. The new study, which compiled data from ninth- through 12th-grade males identifying as gay, bisexual, or heterosexual, found “no significant differences” in the HIV-related risk behaviors between these groups.

Queer youth still getting HIVBut despite the very little difference between the HIV-related risk behaviors of gay youth and that of straight youth, the data show that the rate of HIV transmission is still much higher among men who have sex with men. MSM have an HIV diagnosis rate at 57 times that of heterosexual men. In 2014, for example, MSM represented a full 80 percent of new youth infections.

So why does HIV infection disproportionately affect gay and bisexual men if they don’t engage in risky sexual behavior more often than their heterosexual peers? A huge factor is the increased prevalence of HIV in the sexual networks of gay and bisexual men. And one must also keep in mind that, when it comes to HIV transmission, not all sex acts are created equal. According to Dr. Laura Kann, chief of the CDC’s School-Based Surveillance Branch, MSM are at higher risk because “the transmission risk for receptive anal sex is 17 times higher than [for] vaginal sex.”

Read the full article.

Free test kits can help guys on Grindr test more often

From the New York Times…

Grindr, the gay dating app, is an effective way to get gay black and Hispanic men to try home H.I.V. self-testing kits, according to a recent study.

Free test kits on GrindrThe small study was confined to Los Angeles, and fewer than 400 test kits were distributed, but the idea has broader potential. Grindr is used by at least five million men in 192 countries, according to its developer.

In the United States, young gay black and Hispanic men are the groups most likely to be infected with H.I.V. and the least likely to be tested for it, because they often lack health insurance and fear being rejected by their families.

In some other countries, gay men may be harassed, jailed or even executed.

The study used banner ads on Grindr to offer free test kits. Recipients received a kit in the mail, a voucher that could be redeemed for a kit at a pharmacy, or a code that would produce a kit from a vending machine in the parking lot of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.

The test requires no blood; a swab of the gums produces results in 20 minutes.

Of the 56 black and Hispanic men who requested kits and were willing to answer survey questions, 69 percent had not been tested in the last six months; medical experts recommend that gay men who do not always usecondoms get tested every three months.

Two men learned from the kits that they were infected.

Researchers at the medical schools of Indiana University and the University of California, Los Angeles, chose Grindr rather than other gay dating apps like Scruff and Jack’d “because it was the oldest and biggest,” said Dr. Jeffrey D. Klausner, an H.I.V. specialist at U.C.L.A.’s David Geffen School of Medicine and one of the authors of the paper published in Sexual Health.

The idea of using the app to encourage home testing is “ripe for expansion” to other cities, and possibly to other countries, Dr. Klausner said

HIV epidemic continues for gay men across the globe

From Johns Hopkins University

Across countries and income levels, gay men continue to see disproportionately high rates of HIV infection, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. Though overall HIV rates have flattened in recent years and a diagnosis is no longer the death sentence it was once considered, researchers are concerned that the epidemic persists globally among men who have sex with men.

“It’s a tragic situation and it’s painful that the history of AIDS is looking like its future, but that’s actually where we are,” says study leader Chris Beyrer, a Bloomberg School professor and president of the International AIDS Society. “But the first step in taking on a problem is recognizing and articulating it, and we’ve really done that here.”

The findings, to be published July 9 in The Lancet, follow up on a 2012 call to action from the same group of researchers. Back then, they laid out anambitious framework to curtail HIV epidemics in gay men, setting targets for policy reform, funding, and improvement in HIV prevention and treatment—including expanded access to pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a pill that has proved highly effective in reducing transmission among this population.

Read the full article.

Gay, Bi men frightening health officials in US and UK with skyrocketing STD rates

From Advocate.com

STD rates alarming health officialsThere are new scary findings about sexually transmitted infections and diseases from the United Kingdom, where cases of syphilis and gonorrhea have jumped 73 percent and 53 percent, respectively, between 2012 and 2015. Officials cite “very high rates of STIs among gay men and young adults” as a factor in the rise, according to The Guardian.

The troubling report follows a similar one last year from the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which showed 2014 syphilis and gonorrhea cases outnumbering those from 2013, the first rise since 2006. Again, MSM (men who have sex with men) were specifically referenced in the findings, which repeated a shocking, underreported fact — potentially fatal syphilis among MSM has been increasing since the year 2000.

Read the full article on Advocate.com.

Research: condomless gay porn can lead to more barebacking

From Advocate.com

[…] The study recruited 265 men who have sex with men (MSM) who were asked to relate the number of hours in an average week they spent viewing “man on man” porn, and how much of it featured anal penetration with a condom, as well as condomless anal sex.

Muscular nude male torso

In order to discern the perceived impact of their porn consumption, participants were also asked to describe how often in the preceding three months they fantasized about engaging in sexual acts they had watched, if watching Internet porn influenced the kind of sex they desired, if they sought out sexual contact after watching [porn on] the Internet, whether or not they felt Internet porn contributed to their engaging in “risky sex,” and whether they engaged in condomless anal sex.

Nearly all of the participants had consumed at least some porn both with (91.3 percent) and without (92 percent) condoms in the preceding three months. And researchers were able to discern a clear correlation between condom usage and the condom content of the pornography consumed by the participants; for instance, those who consumed “much” condomless porn (50 – 74 percent) could be expected to participate in 25 percent more sex without condoms than those who only viewed “some.”

Read the full article on Advocate.com.

LGBT community faces a two-edged sword when it comes to addiction

From Huffingtonpost.com

LGBT addictionWhile the open discussion of identity and being LGBT has become more customary, those who identify as LGBT often exist silently – in the closet, in fear, ashamed, and sometimes suffering with addiction. Members of the LGBT community face a two-edged sword when it comes to addiction. The emotional stress that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals often feel – including rejection, isolation and low self-esteem – as well as the threats of physical violence, prejudice and discrimination, make them vulnerable to addiction. At the same time, these factors decrease the likelihood that they will receive effective treatment. Too often, members of the LGBT community face internalized stigma and homophobia. These internal struggles with themselves can make it more difficult to seek out or achieve long-term recovery.

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More gay sex, more equality or more equality, more gay sex?

From the Advocate.com

You may have seen last week’s headline “You Weren’t Imagining It: More People are Having Gay Sex,” which summarizes findings from our recent study that analyzed changes in both sexual behavior and public opinion toward individuals who engage in same-sex sexual behavior. Increases in both behavior and acceptance caught the attention of not only The Advocate but other major outlets as well: “Americans Are Sexually Experimenting Way More Than They Used To” and “More Americans Are OK With Same-Sex Experiences.” So, what did we find, how did we find it, and why all the buzz? Perhaps the answer to the last question lies in what these findings could mean for the LGB community.

syphilis card 1 frontWe looked at answers to questions in the General Social Survey, a nationally representative survey of Americans conducted every year or two since 1972, yielding responses from more than 30,000 Americans. We were interested in changes over time in reports of same-sex sexual behavior and attitudes about same-sex sexual behavior.

The survey asks people how they feel about “sexual relations between two adults of the same sex,” with possible answers of “always wrong,” “almost always wrong,” “wrong only sometimes,” and “not wrong at all.” The survey began asking this question in 1973, when only 11 percent of Americans believed that same-sex sexual behavior was “not wrong at all.” That number barely changed through the 1980s but began to climb steadily in the 1990s. Today, 49 percent of Americans believe that same-sex sexual relations are “not wrong at all,” and 63 percent of young Americans (often dubbed millennials) report this highest level of acceptance. That’s a huge increase in just 25 years!

Read the full article on Advocate.com.