Another 27% say they consider their sex lives to be risky
According to a new survey, 65% gay and bisexual male respondents did not use a condom the last time they had anal sex.
There are many reasons for foregoing a condom. Some people in long-term relationships have a discussion to not use a condom. Others, however, simply haven’t discussed it or it slips their mind in the heat of the moment.
Danny, 27, from Glasgow said he and his partner haven’t talked about it yet. ‘We should probably use condoms, but it’s not been a discussion we’ve had yet,’ he explained. ‘We’ve only been doing it for about two months.’
Condoms can prevent many risks during sexual intercourse. 27% of the respondents consider their sex lives risky. In fact, GMFA’s Ian Howley says: ‘The vast majority of gay men will have risky sex at some point in their lives.’
But what is a risky sex life?
One of the biggest risks is HIV.
However, it is possible to not transmit HIV even without a condom. Someone who is HIV-positive but undetectable or on PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, an anti-HIV medication) cannot transmit it to their partners. This is explains why 14% said they had bareback sex but one or both were undetectable and 8% said one or both were on PrEP.
Lachlan, 37, from London, for example, says he mostly only does bareback.
‘I feel safer having sex with an undetectable guy than someone who claims to be negative,’ he said.
Most respondents though, 32%, said they had bareback anal sex knowing their partner was HIV-negative.
Finally, 11% said they didn’t think about the risks.
‘I barebacked a guy without having a convo about sexual health beforehand,’ Sam, 31, from Ireland confided. ‘The second time I met him, I noticed pill bottles on his nightstand so I made up an excuse, left and confronted him about them later. He apologised, admitted to being positive and just getting back on meds to keep it under control. I was so paranoid I did the recent exposure test and found a doctor to put me on PrEP as soon as the results came back.’
Risks beyond HIV without a condom
HIV is not the only risk when it comes to having unprotected sex.
‘The first time I had chlamydia, I had symptoms and caught it from an anonymous fuck in a sauna,’ said Joe, 31, from London. ‘The second time I caught it from a friend who gave me a blow job.’
20% and 18% of respondents said they’ve had chlamydia and gonorrhoea, respectively, in the penis. There are other STIs such as syphilis (12%), HPV (6%), and herpes (6%).
‘Risk is not a bad thing,’ reminds David Stuart. ‘Just something we need to negotiate. Being confidently informed about how HIV and STIs are transmitted removes the fear that any risk might represent in the bedroom (or wherever sexy stuff happens).’
Howley adds: ‘We now must do more to increase gay men’s knowledge about all the options open to them. Of course condoms still play an important role in preventing other STIs and should still be a major part of a safer sex strategy, however, it’s not a one size fits all approach any more.’