Why are gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men highly impacted by HIV epidemic?

Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are highly impacted by the HIV epidemic. 68% of all new HIV infections in 2016 were derived from male-to-male sexual contacts whereas from all HIV diagnoses among 13–24 year olds between 2008 and 2010, 80% were among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. But what factors are linked to young gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men's engagement in high HIV risk behaviour?

It is estimated that 32–68% of all HIV transmissions among adult men who have sex with men (MSM) take place within main partnerships. Moreover, men who have sex with men in relationships report greater condomless anal sex, as well as, participate less frequently in HIV tests.


These high rates of condomless anal sex are considered to be a tactical move among adult men who have sex with men to denote trust and foster intimacy with their partners. Love can increase intimacy and trust which then reduce perceptions of HIV risks and in some cases promote condomless anal sex among adult men who have sex with men


However, young gay, bisexual, and other men's who have sex with men perceptions toward relationships might differ in comparison to adult men. Usually, young gay, bisexual, and other men's who have sex with men relationships, during this developmental period, are characterized by multiple short-term experiences that follow one another in succession over an abbreviated amount of time. Moreover, most of these young men report having two or more serious relationships over an 18 month period.

Similar to adult men who have sex with men, there are estimated high concentrations of condomless anal sex among young serious partners. In this way, young men's willingness to forgo condoms shows an attempt to express love, intimacy, trust, and/or commitment with a partner.


Interestingly, young men who pursue their casual or romantic partners online, report significantly higher condomless anal sex partners than those who pursue romantic partners more often than causal.


However, young gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men do not define their romantic and sexual experiences statically but instead are based on their emotional and interpersonal circumstances. Therefore, recognizing the shifting and ambiguous nature of young men who have sex with men, may help explain and make clear some of the mechanisms of HIV risk they face together with their romantic and sexual partners.

Source: “It was supposed to be a Onetime Thing:” Experiences of Romantic & Sexual Relationship Typologies among Young Gay, Bisexual, and Other Men who have Sex with Men
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